Fiscal Conservatives Challenge Pay Raises for University of Wisconsin Top Brass

by Benjamin Yount


Not everyone is convinced UW-Madison’s chancellor warrants a $900,000 annual salary.

UW Regents this week voted to increase the salary ranges for most top leaders.

That includes a 7% increase for the UW System president, a 22% increase for the chancellor at UW-Madison, and a 32% increase for the chancellor at UW-Milwaukee.

Regent President Edmund Manydeeds said the university has to pay more in order to land top talent.

“It’s important to attract and hire the best candidates for both positions,” Manydeeds said. “It’s critically important that we pursue competitive, market-based salary ranges for all positions in the UW System.”

But state Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, said the university can certainly find plenty of qualified chancellors for the six-figure salaries that the UW System is currently paying.

“With Chancellor [Rebecca] Blank collecting a $606,000 annual salary, I certainly do not believe the Board of Regents needs to shell out up to $900,000 per-year to find a competent replacement,” Stroebel told The Center Square.

recent Campus Reform report said Blank’s salary is equal to the tuition bills for 55 UW students. Blank is set to leave UW Madison next summer to become president at Northwestern.

“Something that often goes unmentioned in the reporting on six-figure pay raises for university chancellors and presidents is the fact that the decision makers on boards of regents and trustees aren’t spending their own money,” Stroebel added. “I’m sure this makes it easier for them to rationalize generous pay raises for university administrators, inflating tuition prices and the ‘market rate’ for these positions in the process.”

Stroebel said he’d like to see “ some better results from this investment for the taxpayer.”

He’s not alone.

Brett Healy with the MacIver Institute says taxpayers in Wisconsin would be better served if pay raises were tied to performance by university administrators.

“If we must give chancellors a raise, it should be tied to tuition going down for the next four years. Let’s incentivize chancellors to find efficiencies, new ways to lower the actual cost of a degree, and innovations to give parents a break and help hold down student debt loads,” Healy said.

In addition to pay hikes for the next UW president and UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee chancellors, regents voted to provide a 7.1% increase for other chancellors, a 5.5% increase for System vice presidents and senior vice presidents, a 5% increase for the UW-Madison provost, and a 9.6% increase for the UW-Milwaukee provost.

“Given how poorly higher education in general and the UW system in particular served our kids during COVID-19, this move proves how tone-deaf the education establishment is and how out of touch they are with the hardworking taxpayers of the state,” Healy added.

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Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square. 
Photo “Senator Duey Stroebel” by Senator Duey Stroebel. Background Photo “University of Wisconsin-Madison Campus” by Ron Cogswell. CC BY 2.0.




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