I moved from a private university to a public one on January 1. In the private world, compensation was sometimes whispered about but few really knew how their peers, subordinates or supervisors were compensated. Oh speculation abounded, but having been in a position to know some real numbers, the speculators were often very wrong.

I have discovered that my new university opens everything up not only internally but externally as well. I’ve been typing in names of friends, colleagues and acquaintances all evening. The data have been fascinating. It pays to be hired now. So many newly recruited assistant professors out earn their long tenured colleagues. If you are job hunting, I strongly encourage you to plow through the data batch by batch so that you negotiate well.

University salaries not your cup of tea, well one of our local papers, the Denver Post, has made all sorts of data freely available in their Data Center. Crime, compensation, foreclosure maps, sex assaults by graphical map, truly whatever interests you. I really did not need to know that my teenage neighbor is listed as a sex offender (yes really) in one of these databases.

I have mixed feelings about all of this transparency. I got a memo in my work email today. There is a now released “sexual predator” who has moved near one of our campuses. This memo had a summary of his record, his name, his address, his photo – with this description “Fondled 8 yo female at work site, and had her perform oral sex.” Do you feel safer now? How long before this man, with his photo and name given to thousands of us, is lynched? Should I feel better that I’m decades older than his alleged target? That I have no kids? Can this guy move forward on better behavior without paying for this every day, even now that he’s served his time? How can he possibly get work with a memo of this type following him wherever he moves? This does not mean I don’t feel his crime was heinous. I do. But I wonder whether and how all of this transparency is serving us.

Do you feel better knowing that your colleague is earning $750 more or less than you per year? That a released felon is in your neighborhood? That your new neighbors bought your old neighbor’s house for cheap in a foreclosure auction?

Me? I like data. Data comforts me. Or perhaps I should say, the analysis of data comforts me. But some of these random facts…oh those I could really live without.