MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Interim University of Wisconsin President Tommy Thompson has submitted his letter of resignation effective March 18, a move that comes as the committee working to name a permanent leader prepared to name finalists for the position.

Thompson, the 80-year-old former governor, took on the job as interim president of the UW System on July 1, 2020.

He came on board after a failed search to find a replacement for Ray Cross.

Thompson said in his resignation letter submitted Friday to the Board of Regents that he was honored to hold the position “particularly through what could have been its darkest time.”

“Tommy Thompson was the right man at the right time. His leadership has helped carry us through a pandemic and set the standard for managing during a crisis. As important, President Thompson has been a relentless champion of the University of Wisconsin. It showed in everything he did as System President,” said UW System Regent President Edmund Manydeeds III.