by Henry Redman, Wisconsin Examiner
May 31, 2024

Gov. Tony Evers on Friday announced three appointments to the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, including one to replace an appointee of Gov. Scott Walker who has said he won’t leave his position despite the expiration of his term. 

In a news release announcing his appointments to the board, which contains 14 citizen members, Evers did not address Robert Atwell’s statement earlier this week that he would be remaining on the board, but said that the body is at a “critical juncture.” 

“Our UW System is at a critical juncture after a decade-long war waged on higher education by Republican lawmakers in our state, the devastating results of which we are seeing firsthand as campuses close their doors, layoff staff, and cut programs,” Evers said. “The work of the UW Board of Regents is as important as ever, and I have full confidence that the three individuals I am appointing today are ready and prepared to face these challenges head-on, to do what is in the best interest for our students, faculty, and staff, and to ensure we have the fully funded, fully functioning UW System that Wisconsinites deserve and that meets the needs of our students, our workforce, and our local communities.”

On Monday, Atwell said in an email to UW System leaders that he wouldn’t be leaving. He’s able to remain on the board because of a legal precedent set by the state Supreme Court after a Walker appointee to the state Natural Resources Board refused to leave for over a year past the expiration of his term. The precedent states that so long as the state Senate, currently controlled by Republicans, does not confirm an appointee’s replacement, that person can remain in their post indefinitely. Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe has also used the ruling to remain in her post despite opposition from Republicans to her continued service in the role. 

Evers appointed Tim Nixon, Jack Salzwedel, and Desmond Adongo to seven year terms. 

Nixon, a commercial lawyer, was appointed to replace Atwell. He has received three degrees from UW schools. 

“I am honored that Governor Evers asked me to serve the University and the people of Wisconsin,” Nixon said. “I love the institution. I attended the Manitowoc County Center and have degrees from UW-Green Bay and UW-Madison. This is an opportunity to give back, in a unique way, to an institution that has done much for me and my family.” 

Salzwedel, appointed to replace Walker appointee Mike Jones, is the former CEO of American Family Insurance. 

“Having grown up, lived and worked in the state of Wisconsin for most of my life, I consider it an immense honor and privilege to be selected to serve on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents,” Salzwedel said. “This work, while not easy, is very important—and I look forward to serving the university system and all the people affiliated with it for the betterment of our great state.” 

Adongo was appointed to fill the seat on the board designated for non-traditional students. Adongo is a student at UW-Oshkosh. 

“I am excited and humbled to be nominated for the non-traditional students’ Board of Regents role,” said Adongo. “As a non-traditional student, I hope to bring a unique perspective to enhance and prioritize all student experiences on every UW campus regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances. I look forward to collaborating with faculty, administrators, and students to establish, cultivate, and promote a vibrant and meaningful culture where current and future students are endowed with the tools for success.”


Wisconsin Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Wisconsin Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Ruth Conniff for questions: [email protected]. Follow Wisconsin Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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