Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Evers appoints alumnus Weatherly to UW Board of Regents

Kyle Weatherly Kyle Weatherly

Kyle Weatherly (MPA ’06) of Milwaukee was among three University of Wisconsin System Regents appointed by Governor Tony Evers on June 1.

Weatherly is the founder and CEO of Frontdesk, which provides short-term apartment rentals across the United States. He also is a principal of Vliet Street Capital, a member of the Board of Directors for 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, and the former president of Solaris Inc., a medical compression manufacturer.

Weatherly said he looks forward to fostering a UW System that serves as a “ladder for the people it serves,” and a “north star” of student opportunity. As a Regent, he hopes to promote student and faculty voices, represent the 30- to 40-year-old demographic, and bring his technology-transfer experience and entrepreneurial perspective to the 18-person Board.

The Board of Regents is responsible for establishing policies and rules for governing the statewide System, appoints the System president and campus chancellors, and grants tenure appointments to faculty members. Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson is leading the System as interim president following the retirement of former President Ray Cross. 

Weatherly’s appointment comes at a challenging time for the UW System. In May, System leaders estimated a $212 million combined loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic through the summer.

During these uncertain times, leadership will require agility, responsiveness, and good judgement, Weatherly said. Financial modeling will play a prominent role in the decision-making process, he said, although modeling COVID-19’s impact has been challenging because it has no historical precedent.

Weatherly’s experience with financial modeling began at the La Follette School, where he learned to do regressions by hand. “Even though it wasn’t fun at the time,” he said, “doing regressions by hand helped me understand the model and its weaknesses.”

The La Follette School also taught him how to communicate ideas concisely, work under a time constraint, and approach problems from an analytical perspective, he said.

During graduate school, Weatherly said, he hoped to run a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, where he had worked in California and Madison during a gap year. However, he unexpectedly took over his mother’s small business, Solaris, where he realized that he enjoyed working in the private sector and helping his customers.

Solaris grew, on average, 30 percent a year from 2006, when he took over the company, to 2016, when he sold it to a European company. Two years before Weatherly sold the company, the Milwaukee Business Journal selected Weatherly as one of its “40 Under 40.”

In addition to his master’s degree from the La Follette School, Weatherly received a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from UW–Madison in 2004.

- Written by Peter Mosher