Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ask The Verb: UW pay

This wasn't a direct query to Ask The Verb, but it has to be talked about. In a recent comment, the Stranded Preposition asked about the chancellor's pay package:
There were two other raises handed out recently that seem to be okay by everyone, assuming silence is interpreted as acquiescence. Why isn't there an outcry about Ryan and Alvarez's salary increases? Only because they come from outside sources? If that is the case, then why complain about the new chancellor's salary bump? Isn't that covered by WARF? Or is there a double standard?
This morning's Wisconsin State Journal has a piece by sports columnist Andy Baggot addressing many of these questions. With a big push from outgoing chancellor John Wiley, Barry Alvarez got a raise of $150,000 to put him at $750,000 per year (down from the $1,400,000 he got as football coach). A third of the new total comes from the UW-Foundation. So, taxpayers are paying more for the athletic director than for the chancellor.*

Baggot makes some good points, like that "Alvarez's raise itself exceeds the average annual salary for a full professor at UW in 2006-07 ($103,543)." I would have noted that, given massive inequities across campus, there are whole departments where nobody earned $100,000 in the last figures I saw; a surprising number of full professors are around $70K, and not just 'deadwood' by any stretch.

But that's not what's galling. Look at this:
The total salary Alvarez will receive starting July 1 is more than three times what Pat Richter made in his final year as UW athletic director just five years ago ($237,360).
Faculty, staff and grad student employees are being starved on less-than-inflation raises year after stinking year. Baggot quotes Wiley appealing to 'market forces' to justify this outrage.

Ahhhh, the 'market', the Big Lie that's not only destroying universities but our society: The boss is worth vastly more than the worker. We've seen the insanity of this in business, where CEOs are driving their companies to wrack and ruin but earning hundreds of millions along the way. Isn't it time that we start talking about this fundamental problem?

*And fyi, incoming chancellor Biddy Martin comes from a serious football family, as you can read here. That may soothe some nerves.

No comments: