College News

Foundation’s purchase of former UW-Oshkosh chancellor’s house raises further questions

The foundation said in a statement that a “policy flip-flop” on the part of the Board of Regents forced its decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

While a lawyer for former UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells claims nothing the chancellor did was “a frolic for his own good,” new information showing the university's independent foundation purchased his house far above market value could suggest otherwise.

It was the same university foundation implicated in the lawsuit against Well’s purchased his home at $120,000 above market value, according to reporting by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

After the UW System turned down Well’s proposal to purchase his home and make it an official chancellor’s home and entertaining venue, he persuaded the UW-Oshkosh Foundation's board to purchase the home in January of 2013. Besides the $450,000 earned from the sale, this transaction also saved Wells over $27,000 in realtor’s fees.

He continued to live in the house as chancellor, a half mile from campus, until his retirement 20 months later and subsequent move to Florida. Following this, the foundation put $62,000 additional dollars into renovations, according to reports obtained by the Journal Sentinel.

In January, the Wisconsin Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Wells and other top officials for mishandling million of dollars. The suit claims he illegally backed loans for the foundation’s building products and transferred university money to accounts held by the foundation—which is required by law to be an independent entity.

Many UW-Oshkosh employees describe Wells as a leader with swagger who got what he wanted and didn't take no for an answer according to the Journal Sentinel. And this latest development only creates more questions surrounding his relationship with the foundation as chancellor.

However, the suit does not list the purchase of Well’s home in the complaint and does not accuse him of acting for personal gain.

The UW-Oshkosh Foundation is maintaining a “no comment” policy until the lawsuit has a resolution.

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