Tommy Thompson undergoes surgery after waterskiing accident


Interim University of Wisconsin president Tommy Thompson underwent surgery Thursday morning following a water-skiing accident, according to a post on his Facebook page.

The former governor, who is a few months away from his 80th birthday, said he needed to “reattach my biceps to the tendon”.

Tommy Thompson is leading a meeting earlier this year on the UW System's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Thompson, who served as governor for 15 years and secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, is the interim chairman of the UW system.

UW System spokesman Mark Pitsch said Thursday morning that Thompson “was in a bit of pain and needed to be taken care of.” He was released from surgery late Thursday and is expected to be back to work by Monday.

“He is resting and recovering well, already working on the phone and looking forward to getting back to work,” Pitsch said shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday.

Following:Far from being a placeholder, Tommy Thompson leads the UW system through a tough stretch with ideas, persuasion, and an upbeat attitude.

Following:Tommy Thompson rejects GOP attempt to control and block COVID rules on campuses

Thompson has long shown himself to be someone who has little interest in slowing down as he gets older. In 2012, when he was 70 years old and a candidate for the US Senate, he knocked out 50 push-ups on video in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newsroom dispel any doubts as to his suitability to lead a campaign.

He also brought an impatient and workaholic energy to the work of UW, pursuing major administrative changes during his short tenure. He launched an entertaining video campaign to get students to take COVID-19 precautions seriously, taking ‘Thor’s hammer’ and an arsenal of other tools and weapons to pumpkins, glass and all types of food to symbolize ‘crushing COVID. ”

Most recently, Thompson took to UW campuses across the state to push students and staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Its goal is for at least 70% of students on each campus to get their snapshots.

Pitsch said Thompson is still expected to hit the road on Monday, when the vaccination campaign heads to UW-Superior.

Thompson rose to the challenge of leading the UW system through the COVID-19 pandemic following an unsuccessful search for a replacement for his predecessor, Ray Cross. The system board has started working to hire a permanent system chairman.

Contact Devi Shastri at 414-224-2193 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @DeviShastri.


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