Kevin P. Reilly is President Emeritus and Regent Professor with the 26-campus University of Wisconsin (UW) System, having served as President from 2004-2013. In collaboration with the UW Board of Regents and the campus Chancellors, he developed the “Growth Agenda for Wisconsin,” a long-term vision and strategic framework for what the university needed to do to help Wisconsin and the nation be more competitive in the global knowledge economy. Under his leadership, enrollment grew to 182,000—an all-time high—and sponsored research continued to expand beyond $1 billion annually. Both transfer students and the number of degrees awarded rose by 13 percent, with privately donated need-based student aid increasing by 124%. At the same time, the UW System was ranked by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems among the five “most productive state systems and public sectors of higher education relative to their resources.”
Reilly served as Chancellor of UW-Extension from 2000 to 2004. He was Provost and Vice Chancellor of Extension from 1996 to 2000. A native of New York City, Reilly came to Wisconsin from the State University of New York (SUNY) System, where he was Associate Provost for Academic Programs and then Secretary of the University. In the latter role, he was the corporate officer staffing the SUNY Board of Trustees. Earlier in his career in New York, he led the New York State Board of Regents office that evaluated and accredited all public, private, and for-profit colleges and universities in the state.
At the American Council on Education (ACE) he has been a Board of Directors member and officer, Presidential Advisor for Leadership, and Chair of the ACE Commission on Adult Learning and Educational Credentials. Reilly has served as the President of the National Association of System Heads, and on the Steering Committee for four Wisconsin statewide economic summits. At the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), he holds an appointment as a Senior Fellow.
He is currently a member of the Higher Education Working Group on Global Issues for the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Steering Committee for the Celtic Studies Program at UW-Madison. He has advised the University of Nizwa in Oman and Qatar University on the development of their institutions.
Among his awards and honors are the Signature of Excellence Award from the University Continuing Education Association, the Chancellor’s Medallion from UW-Oshkosh, recognition by the Irish Voice weekly as one of the top 100 Irish-American educators, the Friend of Education Award from the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction, and a commendation from the Senate of Wisconsin for his contributions to the state.
He is the author and editor of books and articles on higher education leadership, policy, and accreditation, among other topics in literature and Irish studies. At UW-Madison, he has taught an undergraduate course on James Joyce and a graduate seminar on Major Challenges in American Higher Education. One of his final innovations as President was to establish competency-based degree programs in the UW System, the first of their kind offered by a public university system.
Reilly earned his BA at the University of Notre Dame, and his MA and PhD at the University of Minnesota.