UW Eau Claire feels wrath of budget cut

How bad is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s cut to higher education going to hurt? Bad, if UW Eau Claire is any indication.

It’s the first university location to announce buyouts for employees, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports today.

Three-hundred-twenty-five staff members — including those with tenure — are being offered “go away” packages by University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt. That’s a third of the people who work there.

Under the terms of the UW-Eau Claire offer, employees 55 and older with at least five years of service in select departments and units will be eligible to receive a one-time payment of 50% of their base salary in exchange for leaving the university at an agreed-upon date.

Participating departments were identified based on their potential for cost saving and efficiencies, “and for the ability to redirect positions to focus on strategic university objectives,” Schmidt said in an email to faculty and staff Thursday afternoon.

The separation offer is not related to performance or contributions of an employee, he said.

“Fewer resources will mean we can support fewer faculty and staff,” he said. “This will require us to strategically eliminate positions and reinvent how we serve our students more efficiently.”

It’s unclear how many positions the university hopes to trim through buyouts. The offer is being extended to about 25% of the university’s 1,450 faculty and staff.

Half of the staff in the political science department have been offered the buyouts.

University officials say layoffs might still be necessary.

Related: Minnesota economy beats Wisconsin: 7 charts, 1 table .

  • MrE85
    • Jim G

      This article underscores the importance of higher education foundations of the medical device industry in Minnesota. There is no reason for Minnesotans to be smug, for there but for a few critical votes go us. Everyone one who cares about our region’s economy should read this and apply it our political decisions.

    • JMEG

      Thanks for sharing the op/ed. Very interesting.

  • Jim G

    Apparently, Wisconsin residents are so exceptional they don’t need quality higher education to compete in the international market place. Also, with the adoption of the so-called Right to Work Law and the cuts to Wisconsin’s higher education systems the Republican Governor and Legislative leaders in Madison are dragging the state back into the 19th century. It takes decades to build a great K-12 and university system, however only one four year term of unrestrained disdain to tear it apart.

  • Jeff

    I read the editorial cited by @MrE85. One point is that UW Madison is seen as an elitist liberal institution by outstaters which I can understand (but don’t agree) so people might not care so much with cuts there. But when they start cutting into the UW System, even this constituency must feel some outrage. These schools are a path to opportunity for a lot of people and have a big influence in their communities.

    • Grumpy

      Madison, Wisconsin= 25 square miles surrounded by reality. UW Mad is an elitist liberal institution. And the taxpayers are not getting their moneys worth. My son’s year book posted an engineering student body that looked mostly foreign. Hmmmm?

      • Brian

        You don’t get an elite university known throughout the world without a few elitists working there. Both liberal and conservative ones. The question is: Does the state want to continue to have a first class university which drives innovation in the state?

        Also, I don’t know the details about Madison, but at Iowa State foreign students effectively subsidize the tuition of the Iowan students. If they weren’t there paying full out-of-state tuition the University would be more expensive for everyone else.

      • joetron2030

        By “foreign” I assume you mean “not white”. Otherwise, why would you be posting a complaint about the engineering dept student body?

      • IntelliWriter

        Why is “elite” a dirty word? Doesn’t it mean the best?

  • Andy G

    Proud UW-EC graduate and reading this just makes me sick. A long life resident of WI I moved to MN after graduating in 2010 and can’t help but feel like I got out in the nick of time – something I would never had imagined thinking being so proud of my WI roots. The toughest part is what Jim G has referenced; the fact that is can take ” only one four year term of unrestrained disdain to tear it apart”. ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  • Vivian

    “How bad is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s cut to higher education going to hurt?…Half of the staff in the political science department have been offered the buyouts…”
    Interesting. This reminds me of the Tim Pawlenty budget cuts in 2003-ish, namely Resources for Childcaring. Where and how will these kinds of budgets cuts affect our society in the future? This leads me to think that the Wisconsin Gov. is thinking in the now rather than the later.

    • Jeff

      He’s thinking the now of 2016 much like Pawlenty was thinking 2012 in his actions as governor. Universities are festering cesspools of liberal indoctrination, etc., cutting them plays well with right wing primary voters.

  • Anna

    It’s a scary thought that this Tea Party right-winger could actually have a shot at the Republican nomination.

    Another bully on the playground.

    • IntelliWriter

      Walker won’t be the candidate. It’ll be Bush v Clinton. Back to the future…….

  • profxfiles

    Some basic journalism here would have been helpful. Yes, they are OFFERING it to 325 people, but they don’t need to cut 325 people to balance the budget. UWEC is required to offer it to everyone that meets the criteria (55+, 5 years of service), but that doesn’t mean all 325 that are eligible will get the $$.

    The realistic expectation is that 60-100 people will take the $$, so it is not a 1/3 cut, it is more like 13%. That’s still not good, but I’m really disappointed in how this was written up by Mr. Collins, as it implies something far more dire than is accurate.

  • Jeff Forslund

    You can cut all government salaries by 10% and none will leave. They know they can’t get the same deal anywhere else. You could also cut the number of government workers by 10% and see no decrease in services. Can the entire EPA and no one would care except those in the EPA and people that are funded by them. Same with ATF, redundant and failing at it’s mission.

    • IntelliWriter

      This is patently false. It depends on so many factors. I wouldn’t work for the government as I’d likely have to take a cut in pay. Your comment is overly general.

      • William

        Same here. I used to work for the government, but I went into the private sector after I finished the coursework for my PhD and I make so much more now, it would be very difficult for me to go back.

  • BarryBarry

    Universities in general are overstaffed and under worked.

    When they are actually teaching 5-6 classes a day and have reasonable office hours, then they are “full time”. Otherwise they are merely part time being paid full time.

    • or maybe….

      Then they won’t be doing research, which is typically 25%-75% of their jobs. At many research universities there are faculty in the sciences and other disciplines who are expected to get grants that cover their salaries and those of grad students and the university gets a cut for overhead. Classes are better and education is worth more when faculty are also practitioners in their fields, from literature to political science to chemistry. USM (Univ of Southern Maine) recently let go faculty in Computer Science who had $100,000 of dollars in grant money and who worked with and paid undergraduate students who were getting great work and research experience. Those undergrads are out of work and losing out on a great experience. These cuts are crazy and short sighted.

    • Grace Scrimgeour

      Really? So are you suggesting that professors shouldn’t prepare classes, or grade assignments? Because face-to-face teaching time is a small part of teaching, even if you exclude the active research that academics are expected to do.

    • William

      Try to make professors teach 5-6 classes a day, and you’ll have no classes because you have no professors. The average professor with 3 classes/year works well over 40 hours/week.

      • BarryBarry

        How does that go?…”Yer doing it wrong”.

  • IntelliWriter

    Looks like all the good schools will be on the coasts. I moved to Minneapolis from Boston a couple of months ago and find the dynamics between WI and MN fascinating. I have colleagues and close friends back home who went to the University of Wisconsin and loved the school and the state, specifically Madison. How long before the reputation of the school starts to suffer? So sad.

    In the meantime, Minneapolis is in a growth spurt that is really exciting to be part of. Overall it’s been an eye-opener being in this part of the country.