March 8, 2007

Why the UW took the professors' salaries off the web.

Did you know you used to be able to look up all our salaries on line? Not any more. They took them down. Do you think they did that because it was something of an intrusion on our privacy? No.
UW System spokesperson David Giroux said the step was taken to reduce the “regular outflow of talented researchers in the university.”

Citing the retention of professors as “becoming a much bigger problem with every passing year,” Giroux maintained that the easy access of individual salary information made UW professors an easy target for other institutions.
Why were the salaries up on line in the first place? To save money printing up booklets!

24 comments:

reality check said...

You're up early Ann, good morning.

Ann Althouse said...

Glad to see you're starting off your daily monitoring of this blog with a pleasant attitude. We'll see how you hold up.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, I wrote my comment before I saw your second comment. LOL.

Pogo said...

Re: "made UW professors an easy target for other institutions."

How appropriate! Given the deluisonal rant above (hopefully removed now), a non-reponse to the subject of the post, I thought perhaps the salaries were taken down because made UW professors an easy target for internet trolls..

Matt Brown said...

Was a new list put on line every year? Did the person with the highest salary buy the person with the lowest salary a drink to cheer him/her up? Dare I ask, where did you fall in the rankings? (Of course, you don't have to reveal your actual salary....)

Ann Althouse said...

And now I've deleted the comment I commented on. Great fun. All before 7 am. Reality Check, I'm going to delete every comment you post that raises that subject of my response to Lindsey, which I already made quite clear and involves you engaging in threatening lying that you should be ashamed of. Don't waste my time saying you're joking or whatever. I will ask you never to post here again if you protest, and I will proceed to delete everything you ever try to write if you don't abide by this.

Ann Althouse said...

Matt: I didn't check every year, but it really could be a source of irritation. You could see who's paid more than you and how could you not fret about why that is?

Ann Althouse said...

Pogo: Amusingly, almost no one figured out how easy it was to look up my salary, including many times when people would just speculate about it.

And I did delete RC before I read your comment.

Steven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mellow-Drama said...

Is anyone offended by that? I remember a big dustup about law firms removing associate bios from the law firm websites to make it harder for recruiters to get to them, and the associates were (anonymously) screaming bloody murder about it at the time.

Tibore said...

Don't most public universities put such information online? I know Indiana University does, although access is pretty restricted (you have to be on campus, you have to have an IU username, etc.).

I was surprised to find out that such info is available, but then again, public universities are state institutions. There might be some sort of requirement that those salaries be made accessible.

MadisonMan said...

Looking up salaries of other UW workers was a great time-waster on a Friday afternoon, but it did cause the occasional I can't believe they pay him/her that much!. I think the excuse given by Mr. Giroux is lame, by the way. If a person is in to being lured away, won't they publicize what they make?

reality check said...

What are you talking about that I was engaged in threatening lying?

I truly have no idea what you are talking about? May I ask you to explain?

If you explain it, I will be happy to be ashamed of it.

quimby10 said...

The salaries are still accessible via Google's cache.

RogerA said...

As I recall, Professor Althouse, your earlier cyberstalker Quxxo was sucked into the vortex, found your salary, and posted it.

With respect to the underlying issue, does not the UW think that any researcher wishing to "jump ship" not understand that it is a simple matter to determine other institutional salaries? The rationale makes little sense to me unless, of course, UW faculty members were comparing their salaries AGAINST THE UW PEERS. Nahhh, that wouldnt be it.

quimby10 said...

And I think it's a huge invasion of privacy that they were posted in the first place. Isn't it?

Ann Althouse said...

Reality Check: "What are you talking about that I was engaged in threatening lying?"

You are lying about me by implying that I was threatening to sue someone, when in fact I was express and clear that I would not do that. And that lie is threatening to the person in question. You cannot do that here.

rightwingprof said...

IU solved that by burying the search engine and using "codes" with no key provided -- so even if you find the search engine for salaries, chances are you won't be able to pull any up. Before salaries went online, they did more or less the same thing by keeping salary records in a locked room in the basement of the library and not publishing the location.

quimby10 said...

rightwingprof, I love that idea - I think IU's solution is a very elegant one!

Why all the salary disclosures in the first place? Are public universities required to make this information available?

quimby10 said...

To clarify, I think the solution of replacing individual's names with alphanumeric codes is very clever.

Tibore said...

I hate to say it, but *if* you can get access to the salary lookup tool at Indiana U., you can do a last name lookup. Not all of the other blanks have to be filled in. You don't need to have any special codes or anything to use it.

But again, it's not an easy thing to just stumble over; it's only accessible from on campus. So in a sense, it's not really fully "public".

Quimbly10: I don't really know if universities are legally obligated to make the information accessible, but I've assumed so for years. It makes sense that it's a compelled act; why else would a university go to the trouble of putting the info online? That takes effort; such info isn't accessible online just as a side effect of having some sort of human resources computerized system; on the contrary, you have to go out of your way to build something that gets the information out there.

But, as a direct answer to your question: I don't know if there's actually some sort of law requiring such disclosure.

quimby10 said...

Tibore, thanks. I guess that's why I like the IU solution, which makes salary information available to, say, taxpayers, without attaching specific names.

It makes sense that it's a compelled act; why else would a university go to the trouble of putting the info online?

Somewhat off topic, it seems many institutions do so for internal use without protecting the information adequately. I remember a very revealing experiment posted on BoingBoing (I think), where someone discovered tons of highly sensitive, meant-for-internal-use documents simply by googling "Confidential - Do Not Distribute."

Wade_Garrett said...

These are valid concerns, but public school districts often post their salaries online. The salaries of big-firm associates are common knowledege: other people in the firm, headhunters, law students all over the country, and even people outside of the legal field altogether know what associate salaries are! They are the subject of Wall Street Journal articles every six months or so.

Mike said...

"...easy access of individual salary information made UW professors an easy target for other institutions."

UW Administrator #1: "I guess we'll have to pay them more."

UW Administrator #2: "Orrrr..., we could keep the salary information secret."

UW Administrator #1: "Keep salary information secret! Brillant!"

UW Administrator #2: "Brillant!"