Monday, July 02, 2007

Funding the University of Wisconsin

Well, yesterday's post brought forth a stream of very good comments. The purpose of this post is mostly to suggest that you go back and read them if you're interested in that topic. Just a couple of follow-ups here … then back to linguistics later.

One commenter stresses the structural aspect — that this isn't about shuffling a little money here or there but about changing how the state views the UW and how the UW invests its resources internally. This is precisely what the central administration of the University is there for. Chancellor John Wiley, in fact, recently described his job as 'external relations' in an interview with the CapTimes, while Provost Pat Farrell is primarily responsible for operations on campus. Just so you don't forget where the buck stops.

And yes, the examples of faculty who declined outside offers of course do stress the importance of students and staff. Our students and staff are overwhelmingly doing tremendous work, but under really unfair pressures. This is where the breakdown of the system will kill us. If a grad program that was at the top of national rankings a few years ago collapses because students won't come, you can't recover that quickly. And staff are retiring and leaving in large numbers — and not being replaced. Fixing this now would be far cheaper than rebuilding from the smoldering ruins.

Of course, the piece highlights four faculty who are staying while it lists, what, 15-18 who've left? And everybody on campus knows the latter list doesn't even scratch the surface of the lists that have been in the papers.

Another commenter notes that grad student packages at places like Penn State are almost twice what they are here. (These packages vary dramatically across campus, basically by percentage of appointment, but I know of areas where those numbers are basically right.) If I'm driven away from this university, as I may well be, it'll certainly be over the loss of grad students, academic and classified staff. And I know from talking to people who've left or are leaving that "faculty leave for campuses with a real commitment to graduate education." As a doctoral student from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said last night, if the institution gives you the resources, it doesn't much matter what the university's name is.

We've got to turn up the pressure on the University administration to do their jobs, and we've got to actively support people like CAPE, the Teaching Assistants Association (TAA), and unions like UFAS, who are pushing in the right direction on these issues.

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