A University of Wisconsin-Madison professor had strong words for Gov. Scott Walker over his comments that the UW System staff should be more productive.
Walker’s proposed budget calls for $300 million in cuts over two years to the UW System. It would also grant the system the flexibility to make decisions without being supervised by taxpayers.
“Maybe it’s time for faculty and staff to start thinking about teaching more classes and doing more work,” Walker told WTMJ Radio host Charlie Sykes on Wednesday. “This authority frees up the UW administration to make those sorts of requests, which, I think are needed not only here, but across the country.”
John Sharpless, a former Republican candidate for Congress and who teaches history at UW, voiced his frustration on Friday over the belief that professors aren't working hard enough. He said he arrives no later than 9 a.m. and leaves no earlier than 5 p.m. During that time, he said he’s either teaching, preparing lectures, doing research, attending required committee meetings, advising students and managing teaching assistants. Sharpless added that he often spends his evenings reading and grading papers.
“None of this seems like work to a guy like Walker because he lives a different life,” he said. “And I’m not going to make fun of what he does. I’m sure being a governor is a lot of work. He has to spend a lot of time in Iowa and South Carolina and North Carolina and courting other Republican big-wigs. That taxes the man horribly.”
He suggested that to help with the budget shortfall, Walker should give back the money that he makes when he leaves Wisconsin to campaign for a possible presidential run in 2016.
“I think Scott should take a leave of absence and do this on his dime or the dime of the big corporate guys who pay his jet fare,” Sharpless added.
As for the 13 percent budget cut that Walker is seeking from the UW System, Sharpless insisted that there isn’t much left to trim away considering that $250 million in state funding was axed in the 2011 budget repair bill. In addition, he noted that many faculty members haven’t had a significant raise — or any raise in some cases — for 15 years.
“I will retire with a salary that’s less than a Madison bus driver,” he said. “I’ll retire with a lot less than Scott Walker has at his retirement, so the notion that we’re a bunch of fat cats who are getting rich off the taxpayer is a crock of cow poop.”
Editor’s note: “The Week in Review” can be heard Fridays at 8 a.m. on the Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio.