I believe that financial disclosure contributes to a healthy debate about the value of academic education, research, and service labor in society. Far from being supported solely from either student tuition dollars or state taxpayer dollars, as a full professor I currently earn a combined private-, Federal-, State of Wisconsin- and student tuition- funded base salary of $122,210 per 9-month academic year. (For comparison, the median UW-Madison full professor salary in my field in 2014-2015 was $125,512; the median full professor salary among our peer group in my field was $127,511.) In my additional leadership roles as Associate Dean for Social Sciences in the College of Letters & Science, and Faculty Director for the L&S Second-Year Career Course, I receive a salary supplement (a temporary base adjustment and two-and-a-half months of summer salary).
Over the last decade-and-a-half, the State of Wisconsin has gradually reduced its support for the university. For example, as the Chancellor summarized following the final FY2016-FY2017 state budget was signed into law, “The budget cuts to the UW System totaled $250 million in our base funding (what the state calls general purpose revenue, or GPR), along with a few other specific cuts. The UW-Madison share of this is $59 million in base dollars from the state, and another $4 million in cuts to specific programs elsewhere in the budget. We are also cutting $23 million from our current spending plan as a result of the last state budget. We avoided this cut two years ago by spending down our reserves, as requested, but now must take these cuts on a permanent basis. This means we need to cut $86 million out of our budget in the coming year. Any necessary additional spending deepens this deficit further.”
Today only about 17% of the university’s funding comes from state taxpayer dollars. But this reduction in support has accompanied increases in student demand and in the costs of equipping those students for participation in a highly technological, highly global economy and society. According to a recent study by NorthStar Economics, the university produces $21.05 in economic activity for every $1 of state support — a surplus that they estimated underpins some 97,000 jobs.
I am proud to be a member of UW-Madison and a citizen of Wisconsin, and I know my colleagues share in this pride. We work hard every day, not simply to spend the resources that our state, our students, and our donors grant to us, but to enlarge those resources, and the knowledge that flows from them, for the benefit of all. Public workers work in the public’s interest.