Just the Facts on UW System (Part 1)

May 6, 2011 | Blog

It seems that the advocates for the New Badger Partnership have a new strategy– attack UW System Administration. That attack’s been inherent in many comments over the past few months, but now the language is downright offensive.

What’s most startling is the lack of knowledge these critics of System Administration seem to have about the organization itself. It’s typically described as expensive and bloated–common critiques of all those opposed to centralized government.

So let’s get educated about UW System, shall we? This is part 1 of a new series….

Fact #1: The total budget in 2010-2011 for all of UW System was about $5.6 billion. Of that, nearly half (48%) was allocated to UW Madison. Just 2.7% went to UW System Administration ($15 million).

Fact #2: In 2010-2011 40% of all state monies for UWSA went to UW-Madison, and just 8.3% ($9.8 M) went to System Administration.

Fact #3: While in Ohio Senators are expressing concern about real potential bloat– $3 billion in unrestricted net assets (e.g. CASH) held by the Ohio system of public colleges and universities, here in Wisconsin, UW System only has about $500 million. This is not a bloated system.

So…let me get this straight. UW Madison with its $2.7 BILLION budget is attacking and fighting its way out of an Administration that has a total budget of just $15 million per year? What a super-human bureaucracy System Admin must be to be imposing such power over such a WEALTHY counterpart!


  1. Reply

    only reader

    May 9, 2011

    Did you notice how only 1.1 billion of the system budget came from the state, and yet the annual budget is 5.5 billion!? And 1.6 billion came in in gifts, grants and contracts? Did you know that public authority would allow those gifts, grants and contracts to be managed better? Seems reasonable to believe the math there could add up to much more than $15 million, doesn't it?

  2. Reply

    Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab

    May 10, 2011

    Why should we have to "believe" that these new management abilities will exceed their costs? Where is the data to prove your point?

  3. Reply


    May 13, 2011

    The data is that the UW delivers a Top Rated education at one of the lowest per student costs in the country. It delivers quality not far behind the elite private universities at ONE-QUARTER the cost per student. It spends about 60% of what Michigan spends per student for a highly similar education. The people running the UW have been doing it at lower costs than their peers since before you were born. UW has rarely enjoyed funding as generous as its peers yet it managed to compete and even beat them in many rankings going back to the first major university ranking in 1957 UW was ranked 8th ahead of Cornell, Penn, Michigan, Stanford and Northwestern among others. (The Rise of American Research Universities). Many they know a little more than you do about running a major research university.

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