The lack of Domestic Partner Benefits at the University of Wisconsin System and the consequent loss of key faculty
1. Rob Carpick
Rob Carpick is a prominent Associate Professor of Physics and Nanotechnology who left the UW-Madison in 2006 to go to the University of Pennsylvania because they offered domestic partner benefits and the UW did not.
Rob brought in $3.4 million in external grants for the UW-Madison from 2000 to 2006 (approximately $550,000 per academic year). His grants contributed to the university’s general fund and paid for a research team including a staff scientist, a post-doctoral researcher, and 10 graduate students. Upon leaving, Carpick took his external grant money, his researcher and staff scientist with him to the University of Pennsylvania. This is a loss to the Wisconsin economy as the field of nanotechnology generates research and business.
In a September 1, 2006 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online article, Rob Carpick is quoted as saying, “Some people have speculated that I’m getting a huge raise or that I’m leaving for other reasons,… That’s not true. The primary factor was the lack of domestic partner benefits. This is an institution where gay and lesbian employees are not treated equally. Out of my own sense of self-respect and respect for my partner, we decided to take a chance on some place where we would be treated equally.”
2. Shelley Correll
Shelley Correll was a prominent faculty member who left the Department of Sociology at the UW-Madison in 2003 for Cornell University due to a lack of domestic partner benefits. Since leaving the UW-Madison just 3.5 years ago, Correll has been promoted and tenured in addition to attaining over $3 million in grants for Cornell University. That’s a loss of approximately $860,000/year for the UW-Madison. In February 07, Shelley wrote, “The lack of domestic partnerships was one of the main reasons I left UW. … Some people think that domestic partnership benefits are some kind of special rights for lesbian and gay employees. This is simply not true—I just want the same benefits that any of my married colleagues have, that being health insurance benefits for my partner.”
3. Larry Wu
In addition to losing Correll, the Department of Sociology which has been ranked first in the nation by U.S. News & World Report suffered the loss of another key faculty member in 2003. Larry Wu, who is a major star in the field and who brought in millions of dollars in research funding, cited the benefits policy as a primary reason for leaving the UW and going to New York University. (See “No Benefits” in the March 28, 2005 edition of The Capital Times). From 1988 to 2003, Wu brought in $1.3 million to the UW. For the period of 2002 to 2007, Wu won an additional grant totaling $1.2 million ($240,000/year) which the UW lost and New York University gained. Wu is a full professor and Director of the Center for Advanced Social Science Research at NYU.
The total estimated cost of domestic partner benefits for the University of Wisconsin is $1,341,252 (40% GPR funds, 60% Non-GPR funds). The 40% GPR comes to $536, 500 per year.
The University of Wisconsin has lost about 1.7 million dollars per year since these faculty members have left. That is 3 times the GPR cost per year of domestic partner benefits, and these three faculty members represent a small portion of those who have left or desire to leave due to a lack of domestic partner benefits.The system of inequity in which some faculty, staff and their families receive benefits, while others are denied, continues to result in a negative economic impact on the university and the state of Wisconsin.