UW-Oshkosh, foundation reach agreement

Posted on Jul 8, 2020 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive
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The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and the UW-Oshkosh Foundation have reached an agreement on how the two organizations will move forward in accordance with nationally accepted best practices.

The agreement provides the framework to make the foundation a model in terms of governance and relationship with UW-Oshkosh, said Timothy Mulloy, the UW-Oshkosh Foundation’s chairman of the board.

“We’re pleased to have been able to come to resolution with the university,” he said. “As with many operating agreements, there are many complexities that exist in our affiliation and we have a very positive working relationship with UWO, and we are both extremely optimistic as we look to the future together.”

The agreement comes after both the university and foundation were involved in a scandal after it was revealed former UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells and former Vice Chancellor Tom Sonnleitner illegally directed $11 million from the university to the foundation to help pay for five building projects.

The two then signed improper “comfort letters” to banks that promised on the university’s behalf, to pay back millions if the foundation couldn’t make its debt payments. When it couldn’t make the payments, the foundation filed for bankruptcy. Under an agreement, the UW System paid off the debt, with UW-Oshkosh now paying back the system from funds earned from its biodigester.

Going forward, UW-Oshkosh Vice Chancellor Bob Roberts said the university and foundation “will flourish together.”

“We have taken measures to ensure we have clarity in roles and expectations, and we are extremely grateful to the foundation for its mission to be a proactive leader in helping shape and refine the vision of excellence of the university,” he said.

In addition to its agreement with UW-Oshkosh, the UW-Oshkosh Foundation and the Titan Alumni Foundation also reached a deal. The Titan Alumni Foundation was formed after the UW-Oshkosh Foundation filed for bankruptcy. The Titan Alumni Foundation agreed to dissolve after adding its funds to the UW-Oshkosh Foundation and having several of its board members join the foundation’s board.