Budget cuts to UW-Eau Claire lead to 11 additional layoffs following buyout package program

With the latest position cuts, university staff are adjusting and compromising to move forward successfully


Mike Rindo, Assistant Chancellor for Facilities and University Relations, is handling five staff cuts to the facilities department. The reduction in faculty presents an additional 11 layoffs, including five facilities jobs, to the university beginning in February.

Story by Lauren Kritter, Chief Copy Editor

Starting February, another 11 UW-Eau Claire employees will fall victim to the budget cuts finalized this summer.

These reductions raise the headcount from 168 to 179 full-time equivalent faculty and staff cuts, which makes up about 15 percent of Eau Claire’s workforce.

The layoffs include five Facilities, three from Student Affairs, two from Academic Affairs and one from the Chancellor’s division. Many of these positions will be phased out during the year and will all be eliminated.

James C. Schmidt

Chancellor James C. Schmidt said through all these reductions, the top priority is to protect the students’ educational experience. He said he wants to minimize the impact these cuts will have as much as possible.

“This starts with setting priorities and doing things more efficiently,” Schmidt said. “(The cuts) are unavoidable…but we want to minimize the impact they will have.”

Schmidt said having the same amount of work done with fewer people is not what the university wants. That is a way to wear out the staff and not serve students to their best ability, he said.

With the staff that remains, Schmidt said streamlining is necessary in order to have the staff spend as little time as possible doing work that doesn’t directly affect the core educational experience, such as paperwork and attending conferences.

In doing so, it allows more time to be spent working directly with the students primarily in the classroom, he said.

“Our money is better spent on things that more directly affect student experience,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said Eau Claire needs to continue to attract the best faculty and staff. He said if the university can make coming to work more enjoyable and friendly, they have a chance of keeping the best around.

Mike Rindo, Assistant Chancellor for Facilities and University Relations, and the facilities department were affected by the latest employee cuts.

Since employee cuts began, the facilities division has lost around 30 percent of its employees. This includes the 18 voluntary separations and the number of vacancies from resignations along with the involuntary separations.

Rindo said some of the positions are going to have to reimagine themselves.

“We have lost a lot of expertise and experience on the campus,” Rindo said. “We are in the process of reimagining what we are going to be as a unit to support the physical plan of the campus.”

Rindo said the plan is to merge the functions of all facilities, maintenance and repair across the campus. A new facilities management planning unit is going to be created that will be responsible for all of campus, he said.

“We believe there is more efficiency in doing it that way,” Rindo said.

Since this last round of cuts it has become crucial to focus on deciding what is important to keep working on, Rindo said.

“In order for us to preserve the excellence in the classroom experience,” Rindo said, “…we are going to find a way to cut more deeply in order for us to preserve the right things.”

Although classroom experience is important for the student experience, Rindo said, it’s also important to make sure students have a clean and maintained campus. That is why there is less emphasis on small-scale projects, he said.

Schmidt said despite the cuts the university has made, he is confident Eau Claire will make it through the budget cuts.

“I believe we will come through this,” Schmidt said. “Our next conversation is about designing our future and taking control by choosing our priorities.”

Schmidt said all the reductions required by the legislative actions of the last two sessions have been identified and made. This means if all things go according to plan then there should be no more cuts in the near future.

Schmidt said because there has been so much change all at once, some bumps in the road are guaranteed. He said the university will continue to learn and make adjustments accordingly.