UW System President Thompson hires past employees as layoffs rise
The new hires and promotions come as the UW System grapples with budget cuts and rising numbers of layoffs of its administrative employees.Image By: Photo Courtesy of UW System
Interim UW System President Tommy Thompson hired or promoted three new employees with increased salaries even as the number of layoffs within the system’s administration continues to rise.
Shortly after taking office on July 1, Thompson appointed a new chief of staff and vice president — two positions that had been occupied on an interim basis for over two years. Later in September, Thompson promoted a current UW System employee to a higher position.
All three employees have either served with Thompson when he acted as governor of Wisconsin from 1987 to 2001 or worked in former Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Dean Stensberg was named chief of staff on July 5 and will make $175,000, roughly the same annual salary of the previous chief of staff. Stensberg served as special assistant to Thompson during his governorship, and in addition to holding many positions in government he most recently acted as the executive assistant to Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack.
Thompson also appointed Scott Neitzel as vice president. Neitzel worked with the Department of Administration during Thompson’s tenure as governor and served as the department’s secretary under Walker. Neitzel projected salary amounts to $248,400 annually, approximately $46,000 more than the person who filled the position on an interim basis since 2018, and about twice what he made as DOA secretary.
The raise in pay reflects Neitsel’s experience with budget and management in the public sector, as well as his work in the private sector where he earned over five times more than what he will earn working with the UW System, including bonuses, stock awards and more, according to System spokesman Mark Pitsch.
On Sept. 15, Thompson elevated Katie Ignatowski from Director of Compliance and Integrity to Chief Compliance Officer. Ignatowski previously worked as the chief legal counsel during Walker’s tenure as governor. Ignatowski now reports directly to Thompson, rather than the System’s Office of General Counsel.
As chief, she will make $21,000 more than she received as director.
The new hires and pay raises coincide with Thompson’s plan in cutting costs, which includes an unknown number of layoffs of UW System administration employees.
Thompson announced his new plan on Aug. 11 to get “everybody prepared that there will be further cuts in the university budget.”
The move followed previous cuts by the UW System that required administration employees to take one furlough day off each month through June, saving about $3 million, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
Around 600 administrative employees staff the UW System. Laying off an unconfirmed number of employees represents a 10 percent cut to state-supported salaries. Leaving their vacancies unfilled would save the UW System around $6 million through June 2022, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Current Gov. Tony Evers ordered a $250 million budget cut to all state agencies, including the UW System. Last spring, the System suffered the most from the budget cuts, losing $40.7 million of the $70 million statewide cut.
Thompson will determine how much UW System schools will assume from the budget cuts. The negotiations differ from cost-cutting plans at the 13 universities, all of which have already furloughed employees.
On Aug. 20, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank released a statement supporting Thompson and the Board of Regents on their budget proposal, which focuses on campus facilities.
After re-evaluating registration numbers and campus needs, a budget request will be submitted to the governor in November, according to UW-Madison’s State Budget Toolkit.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter