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Public release of UW System salaries reveal large spending on athletics, while overall pay remains flat

UW-Madison athletic coaches rank among the highest paid system employees.

Image By: Brandon Moe and Cameron Lane-Flehinger

A database created by USA Today now allows public view of 2017-’18 salaries of UW employees across the system.

Categorized by employee name, title, department, campus and gross pay, the compiled data shows athletic coaches as the top earners compared to other UW faculty members. The database also illustrates a greater need to better compensate all UW System employees across the board.

The seven highest-paid UW System employees all hail from the UW-Madison athletic department. UW head football coach Paul Chryst and UW head men’s basketball coach Greg Gard topped the list, earning $3,759,999 and $2,398,500 in gross pay respectively.

UW-Madison economics professor Ananth Seshadri was the highest-paid teacher, earning more than Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW-System President Ray Cross. 

According to a Post Crescent article, economics and finance professors like Seshadri usually earn higher salaries than professors from other departments in order to compete with high-paying private-sector jobs.

Aside from Cross, the highest-paid employee outside of UW-Madison is UW-Milwaukee men’s basketball coach Patrick Baldwin, who earned $361,150. 

The 35,000-person database comes in the wake of UW System budget cuts from 2011-’19. The budget cuts stagnated pay increases to less than 1 percent annually. UW System faculty members were allegedly paid 12.3 percent less than other faculty members at similar universities in 2017-’18, according to the Post Crescent article. 

The string of budget cuts has resulted in an increase in overload pay, which occurs when faculty members assume responsibilities that are normally not their daily duties. 

Six out of the 10 highest overload salaries were faculty members at UW-Oshkosh. This comes in response due to understaffing to cope with a lack of resources and funding. 

Facing a 5 percent budget cut for the 2019-’20 school year, UW-Oshkosh plans to increase its class sizes in hopes that it will reduce the amount of overload employees taken on. 

UW-Madison is also reportedly paying its faculty less than its peers.

A memorandum sent to the UW-Madison Provost’s office containing 2017-’18 data from the Association of American University Professors Faculty Salary Survey ranked the full professor salaries at UW-Madison 28th out of 34 institutions.

The memo also stated that UW would have to increase its payroll by 8.4 percent, or $21.7 million, to catch up with the median salary. 

In response to the lesser pay, the UW System Board of Regents recently approved a 6 percent pay increase across UW System campuses over the next two years. The board also approved of an identical pay-plan for UW-Madison, according to a Dec. 2018 press release.

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