Inclusivity Initiative, University of Wisconsin System
In its December 2006 meeting, the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin unanimously voted to recommend inclusion of domestic partner benefits as part of the pay plan for the 07-08 budget year.
The decision reflects a commitment on the part of administrators and faculty to uphold the values of the University of Wisconsin as a competitive and fair institution that is welcoming to all diverse individuals.
We see the inclusion of domestic partner benefits as an imperative goal in order to attract and retain faculty, staff and students, so that we can move forward on our competitive quality agenda. The system-wide budget initiative of the Recruitment and Retention Fund was designed in order to prevent top-notch researchers from accepting better offers and leaving the University of Wisconsin. Domestic partner benefits are integral to that initiative.
In fact, the lack of domestic partner benefits has resulted in the recent loss of Rob Carpick, a prominent and reputable faculty researcher who had obtained 3.5 million dollars in grants for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In an August 2006 Wisconsin State Journal article, Rob Carpick is quoted as saying, “After six and one-half years of working very hard, I found it’s problematic to work in an environment where you are not treated equally. … Fortunately there are other entities that are more enlightened than the state of Wisconsin on this issue...”
Another prominent faculty member, Shelley Correll, who left the UW-Madison for Cornell University due to a lack of domestic partner benefits writes, “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.” Since leaving the UW-Madison, Shelley has been promoted and tenured in addition to attaining over 3 million dollars in grants for Cornell University.
These are just some of the numerous examples that continue to demonstrate the negative impact of a system of inequity in which some faculty, staff and their families receive benefits, while others are denied. The Recruitment and Retention Budget Initiative is simply not realizable without the inclusion of domestic partner benefits.
Including domestic partner benefits as part of our budget initiative is a critical component to the Growth Agenda whose goal is to grow the economy and increase degree holders in the state of Wisconsin.We need to put in place practices and policies to support an inclusive and tolerant working environment in order to insure that the state can continue to attract and retain a diverse workforce.