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UW President Rothman talks pay raises, diversity and education mission

Regents OK millions in UW-Madison tuition hikes
Posted at 9:25 AM, Nov 03, 2023

A power struggle and a legal battle over pay raises for all 35,000 UW staff and employees.

Lawmakers approved and Governor Tony Evers signed off on the raises for all state employees.

But after the budget approval, key Republican lawmakers placed UW pay raises on hold, saying they won't go through until UW cuts positions dedicated to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Governor Evers sued accusing lawmakers of legislative vetoes and violating the state's constitution.

"Those pay increases are well deserved, and they should be allocated to our employees," said Jay Rothman, Universities of Wisconsin President.

Rothman talks about what he sees as a top priority to get the pay raises reinstated.

"This is impacting all of the employees in the Universities in Wisconsin from the custodian to the food service worker all the way up to the university," said Rothman.

Rothman was the former Chairman and CEO of the law firm Foley and Lardner before being named to his current role at UW. He says diversity is key to the university's students and staff and the business community.

"I've been very clear on D-E-I. I came from the private sector, I know how the private sector looks at DEI and how important a diverse workforce is for them," Rothman said. "We have to be a place that is inclusive for everyone in the State of Wisconsin so that prospective students and students will come to our campuses so that we can fulfill and fill the jobs that our state employers are creating."

Rothman believes the key to Wisconsin's future is to attract and educate the best workforce in an ever-increasingly competitive global economy.

"If you can't find an engineer in the state of Wisconsin, our employers are going to move those jobs somewhere else. And once they leave, they're not coming back," said Rothman. "This is a serious issue, and this is one that I believe the Universities in Wisconsin can help the state solve, our mission is to serve the state of Wisconsin."

Watch the full conversation in the video at the top of this article.