Wisconsin Official in Free Speech Debate Denied Raise

December 10, 2018

Following through on an earlier threat, the University of Wisconsin System last week withheld a $25,600 performance raise from Joe Gow, chancellor of the La Crosse campus. System President Ray Cross warned Gow last month that he’d exercised “poor judgment” and jeopardized his raise in inviting Nina Hartley, an adult film actress and sex educator, to speak at the campus’s inaugural free speech week. Gow said at the time that the event was held in the spirit of a new system policy on free speech, which chancellors are supposed to enforce. He also repaid the university for Hartley’s speaking fee. But the system’s Board of Regents still decided to withhold Gow’s raise during a close meeting session. They also declined to grant a raise to Beverly Kopper, the chancellor of the Whitewater campus, whose husband, Peter Hill, was removed from his advisory position and banned from campus events in a sexual harassment scandal earlier this year. All other chancellors, except one who recently received a retention bonus, received raises, according to the Journal Sentinel.

Gow said via email, “I always say to our students that leadership isn't about making money -- it’s about making a positive difference. And if you're very fortunate you might get to do things in your own particular way.” Noting that La Crosse’s enrollment and fund-raising are at record highs, and that educational quality is second only to the flagship Madison campus, Gow added, “What I’m proudest of is the fact that our staff, faculty and, most importantly, students know who I am and how dedicated I am to keeping our university so strong. That knowledge means far more to me than a pay increase, particularly right now.”

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