System and Madison: A little data

Bashing System and the Regents has joined football, hockey and basketball as a major sport on the UW-Madison campus, including in (often grossly insulting) comments on this blog. As Sara Goldrick-Rab has just pointed out (here), players in this game often have no data of any kind.

One theme is that System bleeds state funding to Madison, diverts money from the flagship to other campuses and that as budgets get cut, Madison suffers disproportionately. There’s evidence on this: the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau has just provided vast amounts about higher ed funding in Wisconsin. (Here are the links, with a little context.) #690 lays out the material on public authority. Check out this passage from paragraph 10 (p. 4):

When adjusted for inflation, state funding provided for UW-Madison and for all other UW System institutions decreased from 1990-91 to 2010-11. Over that period of time, state funding for UW-Madison decreased by 2.8% while state funding for all other UW System institutions decreased by 6.8%. At the same time, enrollment at UW-Madison increased by 1.5% while enrollments at all other UW System institutions increased by 23.4%. When these increases in enrollment are controlled for, state funding for UW-Madison decreased by 4.2% while state funding for all other UW System institutions decreased by 24.4%.

As I understand this, over the last 20 years, Madison has had a tiny increase in enrollments while other campuses have grown by a quarter, yet other campuses have been hit far harder by budget cuts.

About JS

UW-Madison faculty member
This entry was posted in State-University Relations, The University Budget, The University System, The UW-Madison Campus. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to System and Madison: A little data

  1. Daniel Bush says:

    God knows System and the Regents aren’t perfect. (I should know, I used to lobby them.) But they’re certainly not the anti-Madison caricatures NBP supporters paint them as. The data you posted makes clear that the other campuses have had to do far more with far less.

    Having had experience on the inside, I can tell you that Madison isn’t forced to compete for attention, or to “wait its turn” for buildings and program approvals, the way the others are. They know what it means to have a flagship. All they ask is that Madison justify its plans in a statewide context…and they almost never turn those plans down.

  2. JS says:

    What you say, and what the data in this post would seem to show, is certainly far from what’s being claimed in comments on this blog and said often on campus.

    I’ll be curious to hear the counter-case and the evidence for it.

  3. Sara Goldrick-Rab says:

    And the “truth-tellers” just keep on telling– look at the latest from the “Badger Advocates”:

    “Martin has spent several months educating lawmakers, organizations and Badgers across the state on why Wisconsin needs to make a major change in the way our colleges and universities are governed. In contrast, UW System fought the proposal fearing a loss of bureaucratic control.”

    Um no– distorting the truth is not “educating.” And here’s yet another claim about the motives of an organization these folks have never interacted with.

    More lies: “Martin worked closely and diligently with the Legislature, and listened. On the other hand, UW System sought to maintain the status quo and
    oppose real reform.”

    She worked closely and diligently to evade the people who hired her. Little else.

    “The UW System has approached the entire process as an effort to protect a bureaucratic fiefdom.”

    Who are these people lobbying for? I find it hard to believe that alumni want Madison to dig itself this kind of hole. Is a Chancellor who behaves in this manner really worth fighting for?

  4. Starved for Information says:

    This really crosses a line.

  5. Crazy Harry says:

    “Having had experience on the inside, I can tell you that Madison isn’t forced to compete for attention, or to ‘wait its turn’ for buildings and program approvals, the way the others are.”

    When you are raising half to 3/4 of the cost of a new building from alumni and other friends, your turn comes up whenever you make the ask. This has been the case on the Madison campus since the early days of the Wiley administration. Get real.

  6. Frank says:

    How Madison was or was not treated under the UW System has little if nothing to do with the current situation. All this data confirms is that all UW schools have suffered under the actions of the state of Wisconsin. And that the System and the Board of Regents were ineffective in doing anything much about that.
    The UW Madison competes in another universe from the rest of the System schools and every state dollar spent brings in several dollars of outside revenue to the state. None of the other campuses have this kind of overall multiplier impact on the state so spending a bit more of the limited funds has more bang for the buck than spending it elsewhere in the System. Many other UW campuses cannot even attract their quota of out of state students (and the tuition income) and recently several had to reduce that tuition markedly to try to compete. Also the average Madison prof brings in $500K in outside funding per year. The average prof at the other schools excluding UWM brings in about next to nothing.
    So perhaps the System and state government (state has the last say on any money allocations) were somewhat rewarding quality and success and overall economic importance to the state. That is being economically rational.

    It is hard to judge the quality of the UW System administration because what they do is rather opaque and hard to measure. What we can certainly say is that they have failed as advocates for all the UW System schools as has the Board of Regents. What they usually seem to do is to have Madison fight the political budget and other battles while they sit back and do what they do best–not much. Almost everyone in the state knew the name of the Madison Chancellor because they were the real face of the UW taking on Steve Nass and others like him over the years that were enemies of public higher education in the state. Unfortunately that is a long list.

    And one Biddy Martin is worth 100 Sara Goldrick-Rabs who is a master at cherry-picking data to present only her neo-socialist views and priorities.

  7. Frank says:

    Martin has disavowed knowledge of or support for that press release by the
    Badger Advocates.

  8. Daniel Bush says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Frank. As valuable and insightful as ever.

    In news from people with a dog in this hunt, Biddy Martin is “dismayed” at Badger Advocates’ “problematic” attack on System:

  9. A Reader says:

    Sara- note that Chancellor Martin did not approve or support that press release:|met:102|cat:1009031|order:1

  10. Frank says:

    The leading state budget writers for the UW have released a plan that is very much in tune with many goals of the NBP while keeping the UW System in name. Several special grants of authority direct to Madison and away from UW System control. Considering virtually none of this was included in the original System Budget it appears once again the System schools can thank Madison for getting out in front and taking some lumps for bold leadership. Something never seen at the System or BOR level.

  11. Sara Goldrick-Rab says:

    Dear A Reader:

    Yes, I saw that. However, this is what’s known as the “hokey pokey.”

    The Badger Advocates continue to claim they represent Biddy Martin– not UW Madison– but Biddy Martin.

    She shouldn’t have to distance herself from a press release– she ought to be ensuring nothing like that junk ever sees the light of day.

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