These two institutions of the University of Wisconsin System are led by one chancellor and integrated at the administrative level in order to provide cost-effective educational opportunities to Wisconsin’s 5.7 million residents. UW Colleges, which serves almost 14,000 traditional and nontraditional students, is comprised of 13 freshman/sophomore campuses around the state and UW Colleges Online. UW-Extension partners with 72 counties, three tribal nations, and statewide and local public and private organizations to bring lifelong learning to Wisconsin’s children, youth and adults.
As leader and chief administrator of UW Colleges and UW-Extension, Cross is responsible for the academic, financial, development and administrative aspects of both institutions. He reports to the UW System president and Board of Regents.
From 1998 until coming to Wisconsin Cross was president of Morrisville State College, a residential agriculture and technology college of the State University of New York (SUNY). He led that school in developing and implementing a new college vision and strategic plan, which strengthened the institution’s academic quality, promoted the development of several new academic programs, integrated technology into all programs, encouraged entrepreneurialism and innovation, and established applied business centers throughout the college. Cross also spearheaded several agriculture, energy and technology initiatives, including the ThinkPad University partnership with IBM and a biodiesel co-generation project, and made rural entrepreneurship a priority.
Cross served as president of Northwest Technical College in Bemidji, Minn., from 1992-98. Previous to that he was a department head and a professor (1977-92) at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich.
Cross received his doctorate in college and university administration from Michigan State University. He earned a master's degree in industrial education at Central Michigan University and a bachelor's degree in technical education from Ferris State University. In 2007 Colgate University awarded Cross an honorary doctorate of science.
In addition to his career in academia, Cross has experience in the private sector as a design engineer, small-business owner and consultant to business, industry and government. From 1967-70 Cross served with the U.S. Army and was awarded four medals for his service in Vietnam.