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Join us for upcoming webinars on presidential leadership in times of emergency, COVID tracking apps, the First Amendment, 2011 WI Act 21 and more...

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Commencement Speaker

How can public leaders generate change effectively and collegially?

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At the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership, our primary goal is to determine how we can produce and facilitate effective public leadership.

Focus Topics

Every academic year, the Tommy G. Thompson Center selects key policy topics to focus special attention on in conjunction with its overall mission to promote public leadership and good governance in Wisconsin. By funding insightful research and putting together engaging public events we hope to elevate discussion of these topics and provide the needed opportunities to civilly discuss ideas and solutions. By shining a spotlight on these areas we are doing our own small part to continue moving Wisconsin forward.

The current focus topics of the Thompson Center are:

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Preparing for Public Emergencies

COVID-19 has caused substantial disruptions to Wisconsin’s health care systems, to the health of our economy, and to the health of our current institutions. In an effort to prepare the state better for future public emergencies, the Thompson Center is sponsoring research and events that investigate questions such as:

  • How can our education system better adapt to online educational environments in the event of public emergencies?
  • What can our health care providers do to offer more immediate services and services from a distance during public emergencies?
  • What sort of legal reforms are needed to anticipate and react to public emergencies?
  • How can our medical community more effectively respond to public emergencies with things like vaccines, treatments, and expedited research?
  • How can the state implement elections during public emergencies?

Reforming the Administrative State

Governing administrative structures contain a large volume of administrative rules and regulations, and many metrics with which to measure if the system is working effectively and not. Significant efforts in recent decades have been made featuring ways to streamline the work done by the legislative and/or executive branches. Along with this the judicial branch has frequently been called upon to resolve ambiguities and disputes in administrative law. The Thompson Center will be exploring possible paths forward for reform, with a particular emphasis on the opportunities available to the State of Wisconsin.

Privacy in a Digital World

It is impossible to be unaware of the rapid growth of information technology in all aspects of American life and industry, and the relative ease with which information can be accessed, shared, or made available to interested parties. This new digital world has altered the ways in which individuals, the private sector, and government operate and interact.  The Thompson Center is very interested in learning what this means for management, regulations, ethics, and standards moving forward.

Upcoming Events

Fri 16

The First Amendment on College Campuses

April 16 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm


The Thompson Center will:

Study, discuss, and improve public leadership;
Generate well-researched policy;
Strive to ensure a balance of political and ideological perspectives;
Address major leadership and policy needs in Wisconsin consistent with Governor Thompson’s legacy; and
Seek to enhance collegiality and bipartisanship in government.

Our Mission

Wis. Stat. § 36.68 declares that the mission of the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership shall be the facilitation of research, teaching, outreach, and needed policy reforms regarding effective public leadership that improves the practice of American government.”

Our Pledge

The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership provides a multi-disciplinary, non-partisan environment to study, discuss, and improve leadership.  Students, faculty members, policymakers, and other relevant stakeholders come together to share knowledge and learn about successful public leadership.  We pledge to pursue leadership, to foster collegiality, and to be problem-solvers.