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 .