College News

Internal review of system finds no schools with similar problems to UW-Oshkosh

The results of a UW System review were released Wednesday, and found no evidence of illegal guarantees and loans at schools other than at UW-Oshkosh.

Image By: Courtesy of UW-Oshkosh

An internal review of UW System schools’ relationships with their private foundations wrapped up Wednesday, after the January discovery that former officials at UW-Oshkosh mishandled funds and made possibly illegal financial guarantees prompted that measure.

The results of the review found no evidence of similar wrongdoing other than at UW-Oshkosh.

The internal review did find some questionable payments, most notably one worth over $180,000 at UW-La Crosse. But that and the other payments unearthed were not similar to the illicit payments that UW-Oshkosh was sued for.

The UW-Oshkosh Foundation filed for bankruptcy in August after Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel sued former school officials for allegedly illegal transfers between the university and its foundation. The officials had reportedly transferred $11 million to the foundation for building projects, despite the fact that using school funds for foundation projects is illegal.

This prompted the internal review by the UW System’s Office of Finance. The office looked at over 2,000 payments of over $36 million in total between UW schools and their foundations in the last seven years. A few of the payments raised eyebrows, but the review did not discover any illegal guarantees or loans.

One payment that may have been handled improperly was a transaction between UW-La Crosse and its foundation involving an athletic complex. After the foundation pledged $500,000 toward the Hall of Honor at the school’s Veterans Memorial Stadium, foundation leaders realized it could not deliver the full amount. As a result, UW-La Crosse gave $183,800 back to the foundation.

The finance office said in the report that it “question[s] whether it was allowable for the university to pay the UW-La Crosse Foundation for this purpose.”

The review also found that UW-Milwaukee had by far the largest number of transactions with its foundation than any other school; its 137 payments totaled more than twice that of the school with the next highest number. The report said UW-Milwaukee’s actions were not “best practices” and that it should use a traditional bank for some of those transactions in the future. 

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