Add the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to the growing list of UW faculties that have approved resolutions of no-confidence in UW System President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents. Previously, just before the Milwaukee faculty voted unanimously to approve the no-confidence resolution, Governor Scott Walker issued a press release chock full of cherry-picked and downright bogus numbers suggesting that UWM faculty are, well, slackers seeking to keep a “job for life.” The next day the UWM AAUP chapter issued a devastating point-by-point refutation of Walker’s nonsense. But that didn’t stop the governor’s office from responding to the Green Bay vote with more nonsense numbers about that campus. This time the inimitable Chuck Rybak, Associate Professor of English at UW-Green Bay, has responded on his blog. As Chris Newfield put it in a tweet: “Rybak v. Walker policy death match! Guess who wins?” Enjoy!
UW Struggle: Goodwill Sucking
Oh my god. So many ragamuffin rapscallions, so little time. Reminder of this blog’s two golden rules: 1) Faculty are always to blame 2) You won’t believe what’s happened since the last thing that happened.
So, in the last few days, UW-Milwaukee (in dramatic fashion) and UW-Green Bay joined the wave of No Confidence motions as applied to President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents. In both instances, the Governor’s office released a completely inaccurate, misleading, and ridiculous set of numbers with the express purpose of trashing the universities and their faculty. Leadership! I mean, who does that? Who releases statements that argue, Look at how much my public universities suck! Vindictive McMcvindicty Face, that’s who. (Did I do that right?)
Walker Claim #1: “UW-Green Bay full professors averaged $70,700 in the 2013-14 school year. The average annual average pay for all workers in Brown County was $44,894 in 2014.”
Response #1: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Thanks for pointing that out, since we have tenure-track professors in Business who make over $100,000. Furthermore, this figure puts us at the bottom of the statewide system, and we won’t even get into how this compares to the national average for people who have earned a PhD.
Here’s another fact: the average full professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences at UWGB earns less than 70,000, with the average being $69,608.00. I know one of said professors; he has 20+ years of experience, a degree from Princeton and a PhD from Michigan, and he makes just over 70k (less than an assistant in another department) at his highest possible rank. At another institution his salary would double. Thanks for pointing this out! (The common theme of a Walker press release: “someone get me a number, anything!”) Want a peek into my personal life? I’m married to a soon-to-be full professor whose adjusted salary will be well below the average presented.
Response #2: We could rephrase his claim as the following: “The Governor of Wisconsin averaged $147,328 in the 2013-14 year. The average annual average pay for all workers in Brown County was $44,894 in 2014.”
Or, how about: “The Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin averaged $77,795 in the 2013-14 year. The average annual average pay for all workers in Brown County was $44,894 in 2014.”
Also, this, which shows how noncompetitive we are at the comprehensives:
Walker Claim #2: “Spending per student increased 30 percent from 2002-03 to 2015-16 at UW-Green Bay.”
Response #1: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! How convenient of you to leave out who was doing the actual spending, because it is certainly not the state, as clearly evidenced in this chart:
See that blue line? That is state spending on higher education. So how can Walker claim spending is up? Because it’s the students who are spending more on their own! Decreases to state funding have led to tuition increases. Now, our current leadership wants to double dip on facts here: first, they want to take credit for a tuition freeze, but second, they want to claim the students’ own tuition money/federal support/loans/etc as their own “spending.”
Verdict: Nice try. Nope.
Walker Claim #3: “Faculty average student group contact hours, hours spent in classroom instruction, have dropped 4 percent from 1994 to 2013 at all UW Comprehensives or 2.5 percent from 2000 to 2013.”
Response #1: Hahahahahahahahahahahahaahahaha! I challenge anyone out there to tell me what this means. If your initial reaction is “See, look!” then what are you pointing at? Let’s go to the data:
First, if you go to the data, “Instructional Workload” is defined as “a variety of activities in addition to classroom instruction including instructional design, course preparation and evaluation, advising, community service, research and scholarship, and administrative and governance responsibilities.” (Note: a Jurassic ton of non-teaching activity)
Second, these numbers account for “State-funded activity only.” This means that all of the bazillion things faculty do for the UW not on their own time…are not accounted for here! Nice!
But did it really drop 4%? Or 2.5%? Maybe? Behold!
I pretty much see a drop of no percent. But are they really saying 2.5% of twelve hours? What, a .3 fluctuation over 13 years (!!!), when the overall workload in increasing by unfunded mandate? When you look at the graph above, do you really see a notable change at all?
Verdict: Walker’s staff tried to deliberately equate “time teaching” with “faculty workload” to people who don’t want to interpret the data. What could this really mean? Maybe people are serving on more committees, volunteering for recruitment events (as I am), participating in faculty governance that has been deemed unimportant, holding office hours, connecting with students online, advising student organizations, setting up internship opportunities, teaching larger classes for increased load numbers, etc.
Verdict Redux: What? Fail.
Walker Claim #4 and the most absurd of all: “At 2.8 students per faculty, average student enrollment in individual instruction is the lowest since at least 1994 at UW Comprehensives. This is individualized instruction such as independent study or thesis research.”
Response #3: The goal here is to obviously deceive people who aren’t reading closely or won’t pursue the data, thus walking away thinking, “They have almost no students.” They walk away thinking that theyhave received the actual student/faculty ratio, which they of course haven’t.
Truth Intermission: The current student-to-faculty ratio at UW-Green Bay, when using the roughest of metrics (total students divided by full-time faculty), is 43 to 1. This would move slightly downward when adding in part-time students and faculty, but would blow away 2.8 to 1 under any circumstance!
Response #3 Resumed: So what is being referred to by 2.8 to 1? As the bullet point indicates, “This is individualized instruction such as independent study or thesis research.”
Let me point out 2 things:
First, faculty do not get paid for Independent Studies (well, I don’t, maybe the beautiful people do). In other words, Walker is wondering why I am not doing more work for free!
Second, Walker expressly says he is discussing a comprehensive university here. In other words, we have almost no graduate programs, thus fewer, if any, theses to advise! If they wanted to be honest, they could have calculated this number based on faculty actually classified as “graduate faculty.”
Verdict: Wow, this is beyond disingenuous. So what happened? This is what happened—someone said, “somebody get me a low number, pronto!” In reality, what is being said here is that schools with few graduate programs don’t advise many graduate students, and with increased workloads, faculty are doing less free labor! Also worth pointing out—the type of work here being highlighted to criticize us is exactly the kind of work they usually criticize us for, i.e., “you work with too few students in too few classes!” But when they need a handy criticism, “Why aren’t you doing more one-on-one work!”
So, given all this, and given that the response from Central leadership is not to lead, not so solve problems, but to further attack the institution and its employees…is anyone feeling confident?
And again, who is doing the labor of response here? Faculty. Has UW Central responded yet to these false attacks on their own system with force and accuracy? No. Is it okay for our institution to be continually maligned and misrepresented without response?
Do you like those apples?