Sad Iron

Fresh

UW Struggle: The Outposts Edition

Northern Faculty Outpost... buried and forgotten.

Faculty Outpost… buried and forgotten.

I haven’t been blogging much because, well, I’ve said what I had to say and was pretty much right about everything. My nine readers got their money’s worth. (Hi mom! Hope the trip to Boston is going well. Say hi to Rachel!)

But let me continue my long reign as master of the obvious and sculpt this snowman of truth: there is no campus but Madison and that is all that matters to the powers that be. (See: money, sports.) “Whatever do you mean, Professor Dingleberry?” Hold on, I’m getting to it.

Nico Savidge, of the State Journal, has this gem about recent efforts to “poach” Tom Cruise-level faculty from UW Madison. I mean, who could imagine that this would happen? I wonder if anyone has made that point along the way. Now, I don’t want to rotisserie a dead horse, so let me move to the money moment, and girl do I mean money:

Speaking to the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities earlier this month, University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross referenced Minnesota’s attempt to recruit political science faculty, saying it cost $1 million to keep the professors in Madison. A UW System spokesman said that money will be spent over “several years” and included $420,000 in salary increases and $645,000 for research funding.

UW-Madison pledged in November to spend $3 million on raises and counter-offers for top faculty.

Patrick noted those raises will boost the pay of up to 20 percent of UW-Madison professors, at a time when others on campus have complained about the impact of state budget cuts. (Emphasis mine.)

Excuse me? Did you say raises? Did you say raises for 20% of faculty? Let me interrupt this blog with maniacal laughter:

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahaha!

Phew. Okay, first, good job monkey butts: as had been pointed out repeatedly, your flexibility is more expensive than the system you decided to pelt with bananas.

And second, did you say raises? Raises for nearly 20 percent of faculty? Hold on a moment…

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahaha!

Now, as I may have mentioned once or twice, President Cross has never taken me to a Badgers’ game, which is a sore spot with me. In fact, he’s never even invited me out for pancakes. So, I haven’t had the opportunity to tell him this story…

Today I had to email a group of professionals who I admire and respect, people who I hope to collaborate with (for the benefit of my students), and tell them that I cannot attend the MLA Conference (the largest professional conference for my discipline) to participate on the panel I was scheduled for.

Why?

I can’t afford it.

My professional development allowance for the year covers less than half the plane ticket for this single conference. I have $350 dollars to spend. Let that sink in: $350. Our legislators will spend far more than that on meal allowances while I, like almost every other working human I know, pay for my own lunch and gas. (Update: $450.00. I repeat: $450.00)

I cannot express how embarrassing it is to email people, who are true innovators in your field, that your institution cannot afford to send you to a conference that will be attended by thousands of people from across the country (and this is not the fault of my campus). Frankly, I feel humiliated, but no one cares about that, I know. Why would they ever want to work with me now? I’m unreliable. I can’t be counted on to attend even the most basic disciplinary events. Robin Vos, when articulating one of his expectations for faculty, emphasized that we stay up-to-date in our fields—I agree with him, and told him as much at our breakfast summit—yet the budgetary situation, externally and internally, is preventing me from doing so. What am I going to do with my $450 dollars? Use it for a third of a plane ticket to a different conference where I will receive training related to digital humanities. “You’ve got one shot kid! Stay on target…stay on target…”

So, let’s just say that the concern about faculty leaving hasn’t reached outposts such as mine up in Titletown. And while I definitely didn’t receive much of a % of a raise, I certainly received the 100% “Go take a jump in the Bay!” (It finally snowed, so it’s nice and cold!)

Let’s take a short snowshoe down memory lane:

  • My department head left and took a new job this year, and this was a direct result of Wisconsin politics. He was looking for any reason to stay, even the smallest of raises to demonstrate that he was valued. Nope. I guess he wasn’t as important as those faculty described above. I think even 2% would have kept him at UWGB. So, while all campuses are indeed getting some money for faculty raises this year, they are not to be applied across the board and that does nothing to retain faculty who have already left, even though they were asking for said raises a mere 6 months ago.
  • All of our professional development money was frozen for the majority of last year, leading to the cancelling of our cohort’s trip to the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (our cohort included faculty from the Cofrin School of Business); since we were sending a cohort, the cost of the trip was significantly discounted for us, yet our then interim provost (who is now gone), wouldn’t hear our arguments about this and its relation to developing the very programs that admin was asking for.

Okay then. You get the point.

Yes, I know I’m humanities faculty and therefore am worthy of constant degradation (cue canned Rickert smugpiece), but I’m someone who looks ahead (it’s one of my faults) and this does not bode well for us non-Madison folk (and I hereby acknowledge how wonderful so many Madison faculty have been through these times; I wish they were in charge).

But why listen to me when we can hear it directly from the mouth of one of Wisconsin’s extensive cast of Death Eaters (Harry Potter reference!)? Here’s Regent John Behling talking about the predetermined outcome results of the tenure taskforce before that work is even finalized!! (Oh yes, the opinions of faculty on the committee are very important):

A common complaint about tenure is that faculty members are not laid off when the programs they teach are discontinued. Our new policy proposal empowers chancellors to discontinue programs as necessary for educational or financial reasons, and, if absolutely necessary, it allows for faculty in those programs to be laid off. This is an important tool for chancellors and the Board of Regents. (emphasis mine)

Well, Merry Christmas to you too. And although Behling’s piece is completely data free and relies entirely on flimsy anecdote, it’s not hard to see who he’s talking about there, and it’s not the people who are having their raises budgeted for over several years.

I hope everyone is doing well and is having a great holiday and New Year’s. If it’s any consolation, I think you’re just dandy.

Update: 20% refers to the percentage of faculty who received raises, not a raise percentage. The statistic leaves my gob equally smacked.

"Your retention raise is out there somewhere! Don't worry, keep looking."

“Your carrot is out there somewhere! Don’t worry, keep looking.”

Next Post

Previous Post

© 2017 Sad Iron

Theme by Anders Norén

css.php