Promising UW researcher leaving over domestic partner benefits
RYAN J. FOLEY
MADISON, Wis. - A promising University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher who has won millions of dollars in grants says he is leaving the school, citing its lack of health insurance benefits for his domestic partner.
Rob Carpick, associate professor of engineering, said he will depart for the University of Pennsylvania, which offers domestic partner benefits, at the end of the year. He's taking with him a research portfolio that has won $3.4 million in grants from the National Science Foundation, branches of the U.S. military and private companies since 2000.
"After six and one-half years of working very hard, I found it's problematic to work in an environment where you are not treated equally," Carpick, 37, said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Fortunately there are other entities that are more enlightened than the state of Wisconsin on this issue and the University of Pennsylvania is one of them."
UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell said Wednesday that Carpick, the winner of prestigious teaching and research awards for young scholars, was among the university's top young researchers in nanotechnology, an area the school is trying to expand.
Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, defended the Legislature's decision to reject Doyle's plan, citing the estimated $500,000 per year cost of the benefits at a time the state has budget problems. He said Carpick's departure was unfortunate but the next person may be able to secure as many grants.
"It's too bad that we may lose a good person here or there but I do not see a mass exodus from the University of Wisconsin over this one issue," said Kaufert, co-chairman of the Legislature's budget committee.
Six lesbian couples and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state last year in an attempt to obtain the benefits. That lawsuit is spending.
Carpick wrote to Kaufert last year trying to persuade lawmakers to adopt the benefits by noting that he generates the amount of money per year in grants the benefits would cost. He said he was angered by the Legislature's decision.
"It says, 'we don't want your kind here'," he wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "Well, other places do want us and are willing to offer the respect and dignity, and so, with sadness, we're leaving."