Saturday, June 07, 2008

Noted: CapTimes on the tuition hike and raises

No time for any discussion now but the CapTimes has weighed in on the complex politics of the University's new budget, just passed by the Regents, here.


Joe said...

There's one piece of the Regents' budget that I haven't yet seen talked about in the press, but which bodes well: "Nonresident graduate students provide critical support to research activities and provide classroom instruction as teaching assistants at UW System institutions, particularly at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee."

Acknowledging the key role played by grad students is really central to solving our problems at UW and nationally.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but also check out the blog responses to the latest editorials at the Cap Times.

People *really* hate us.

I don’t know if people have been watching the blogs at the Wisconsin State Journal or the Capital Times, but they’re pretty amazing.

People are *pissed* about the new Chancellor hire, the massive raises she and the UW President just got, and the new raise in tuition — all happening in the same week.

Imagine how this looks to the average Wisconsinite:

- We hire Biddy Martin, a weirdo from the coast (in their view, not mine), who’s scholarly fame is based on post-modernist interpretation of lesbian literature. In German. Clearly someone who wouldn’t have made it in the “real world”.

- Then the Chancellor is offered nearly $500k for salary, and the UW decides to raise all of the top administrators salaries by about 20% — including Reilly (can he possibly justify this based on his performance?) and others.

- This happens just as the Regents pass a 5.5% tuition increase.

- And it happens the same week that over 2000 people were informed that they’re going to lose their jobs at GM in Janesville.

Brilliant. Goddamned brilliant.

No wonder people in the state are starting to hate us.

Well, UW friends, it’s probably time to abandon ship. This place has been held together by us — the faculty, staff and students — not the administration, for a long time. But the ship is sinking, and it’s time to leave. The UW System, the Regents, and even the UW-Madison administration (and, yes, us too) have done about everything possible to screw up this place.

We can blame Steve Nass, and the Legislature, all we want, but when we do boneheaded things like this, you can pretend to be surprised by their hatred of the UW.

This was handled very, very badly. And I think the massive death spiral has begun.

Mr. Verb said...

OK, Anon, I say: do NOT panic.

I read the comments at fairly often and they appear to be written mostly by whatever tiny percentage of local people are fervent Rush Limbaugh fans.

The salary issue IS a disaster, but it's not Martin's disaster, certainly not yet. I was pleased to see that Riley is giving his raise (or most of it?) to fund scholarships. We have massive work to do on this front and I really hope she will help.

A final point: John Wiley was born and raised to be the person Steve Nass loved. They should get married or something. (Well, except that Nass helped make that illegal.) Wiley's an engineer, hired Republican lobbyists for UW, talks the full business blah blah talk, on down the line.

Wiley got us into a fair part of this mess: We're in far worse shape now than under Ward (a *foreigner*, and a historical geographer, for god's sake, hardly a business guy) or Shalala (another poster girl for somebody who should have failed with the State, but who ended up serving our interests ably and well). Even as a pseudonymous blogger, I'm not willing to tell the stories I've heard, sometimes directly from the mouths of legislators behind closed doors, about the shit that Wiley and his goons have done, but it has been very very bad for us.

I think Martin's going to be far better than Wiley and she can do a lot of good pretty fast just by setting the right tone.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Verb:

I hope you're right, but I fear for this place.

And I was absolutely bewildered by the choice of this new Chancellor. Stunned, actually.

Martin is hardly a major scholar (her academic work is fluffy, at best), nor is she an experienced executive. She would make a fantastic Dean of L&S, or maybe a Provost, but I don't think she's a good Chancellor choice at all.

Wiley certainly had his faults, especially on the State relations front. But on nearly every other front, the UW is much stronger than it was. Research funds are up. Facilities are improving dramatically. Student relations are stronger. Academic freedom is stronger. So I think beating up on Wiley is a little unfair, although he certainly did have his faults.

But I can't figure out why we passed over two other great candidates -- Rebecca B. and Tim M. -- to get to Martin.

And I really don't understand how the search committee could do such a poor job to not include Mike Knetter as a finalist, but then put up Gary S. That was amazingly dumb.

I'm afraid the Martin was the choice that made the humanities end of campus happy, but no one else. While that's important, I think it ultimately is going to doom us all.

On another point you made: I think Wiley had his faults, but a lot of the problems we've been having lately are largely functions of the changing state political climate, and the landscape for public education generally. I really doubt that Ward would have done as well as Wiley has in the past 5 years.

But who knows.

Anyway, I've decided to start looking around for a faculty position elsewhere, after being here for about 15 years. It's clear to me that this is a great university, about to become a mediocre one.

Mr. Verb said...

The choice of finalists shocked me, certainly, and most people I know. In some ways, they seem to have left themselves only two real choices. There was, I think, serious opposition to Mulcahy and to Sandefur from within, in part based on earlier familiarity but in part based on their interviews. I thoroughly expected Blank to be the choice and was very surprised, but hardly stunned.

Wiley decided to write off the state, and that was a fundamental error. Any chancellor would have struggled with the state during this time, but Wiley declined to engage, I think.

But I hope you have a chance to what Martin actually DOES in the new job before you flee.

The Stranded Preposition said...

After reading these comments I had to go and take a look at the comments at CapTimes. Phew. Didn't get through the whole of it but one gets the gist after a short time.

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?

Mr. Verb said...

Yeah, I've been thinking about a post on this topic -- The real issue is the general pattern of inequities in pay across society.

The Stranded Preposition said...

... and the perception of the inequalities. If Rebecca B had been offered the chancellor job would the general statement be made that the money needed to be offered so to get someone of that calliber ... [fill in here the standard comments about attraction and retention of coaches and academic all-stars]. Duplicity characterizes responses to all salary changes. A salary bump is in the hundreds of thousands is fairly incomprehensible to the average UW faculty member and GM worker (really, how much more than $130k can busy chancellors and coaches spend other than to pad their savings or supersize their lives).

While discussion of said bump is really fodder for talk radio and on-line discussions, real vitriol surfaces towards the recipient of a minor (sub-inflationary) bump making an average salary. Duplicity probably arises from overlooking important details salary discussions. The average L&S junior faculty and long-time GM worker share more than is warranted by the juxtaposition of hypothetical headlines such as 'UW Faculty getting raises all around' with 'Janesville crushed by GM's abandonment'.

I'm not unsympathetic to what's going on with Janesville, and am very grateful to have a job at UW-Madison if for no other reason than that it feeds me. But the moral of this story is that rather than applying generous amounts of vitriol to the open wound many think is the UW system, we need to work towards solutions by being consistent in dealing with all residents in the state.

Mr. Verb said...

Well said, SP.