It recently became clear to me that despite all our efforts to publicize the work that we do at the Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, even some of our most generous donors and most stalwart supporters don’t always know — through no fault of their own — the full extent of our activities.
At the same time, the lively statewide discussion sparked by this year’s budgetary battles has brought to light some significant misconceptions about funding allocations throughout the University of Wisconsin System. It’s worth clearing up some of those here.
So, as they say on the radio, let’s do the numbers.
• 0 The amount that the Stahl Center pays its faculty and teaching staff (including our fringes and benefits).
No, we don’t work for nothing, nor does the money fall out of the sky. Our salaries come out of the budget of the College of Letters & Science, the division of UWM that houses the Jewish Studies and Hebrew Studies programs.
Thus, while the generosity of Milwaukee’s Jewish community has been critical to the success of the Stahl Center, UWM’s investment in its own Jewish Studies program is even greater. It is the combination of funding from sources on and off campus that makes the totality of what we do possible.
• 7 The number of faculty and instructional staff teaching courses in Jewish Studies and Hebrew Studies: Rachel Baum, Yael Gal Ben-Yitskhak, Joel Berkowitz, David Brusin, Dana Margolis, Yair Mazor and Lisa Silverman.
• 10 The number of new funds, supporting Hebrew and Jewish Studies faculty, students, curriculum, and public programs, established in the past five years.
• 18.5% The percentage of UWM’s funding that comes from state sources, as opposed to many other revenue streams: tuition and fees, grants, private philanthropy, etc. That percentage is down from 25.1% in 2005-06, reflecting a steady downward trend at public colleges and universities nationwide over the past few decades.
So your tax dollars help fund UWM — but perhaps not to the extent that you may have thought.
• 40 The approximate number (which is always growing) of both our on-campus and off-campus partners.
On campus, we partner with numerous departments, programs, academic centers, and other entities, including Hillel and the UWM Libraries. Off campus, our many partners include the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and many of its agencies, the Boswell Book Company and the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Our partnerships also extend far beyond Milwaukee. We have collaborated with such institutions as the University of Illinois, Barnard College, and the Yiddish Book Center (Amherst, Mass.). We also have two study-abroad partners in Israel, The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion University in the Negev.
• 100 The number of public events organized by the Stahl Center from the fall of 2010 to this coming June — an average of 20 per academic year.
The formats have varied widely: lectures, film screenings with talkbacks, art exhibitions, concerts, workshops, colloquia, and academic conferences. So has the subject matter, ranging from ancient times to the present, in disciplines throughout the humanities and social sciences, covering topics of Jewish interest in many different countries.
• $15,000 The amount of scholarship and award money given to deserving students in Hebrew Studies and Jewish Studies since 2010.
• 2,500 The total enrollment in UWM’s Jewish Studies and Hebrew Studies courses over the past five years — courses on Jewish history, culture, and religion, and as well as Hebrew language. Most of our majors and minors go on to work in or with the Jewish community, either locally or in other cities.
• 10,000 Our conservative estimate of the total attendance at all of those events, which serve a cross-section of the Milwaukee community, from UWM students, staff and faculty to a diverse off-campus population.
• $35,000 The dollar amount we need to raise by the end of the 2015-16 academic year to take full advantage of the Baye Foundation’s generous matching gift toward a new distinguished lecture series.
Joel Berkowitz, Ph.D., is director of the Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.