No state money will be spent on paying off the real estate debts for the UW-Oshkosh Foundation, a private nonprofit organization, the Board of Regents Audit Committee Chair Michael Grebe said in a statement today.
“University officials will continue to work with the Foundation’s leadership as it attempts to work through the financial realities the Foundation faces,” Grebe said in the statement. “A core mission of the foundation is providing financial assistance to UW-Oshkosh students, and we have a particular sensitivity to that ongoing role."
Grebe said to use state dollars “would be inappropriate.”
In mid-May, it was reported that millions of taxpayer dollars could be used to finance the debts of the UW-Oshkosh Foundation if state officials and the foundation's creditors were to reach a settlement.
According to the The Wisconsin State Journal, Grebe said that UW was told by state Justice Department officials that the foundation’s failure to pay its creditors could result in banks approaching the System for the payment.
The potential deal came after state Sen. Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, said he was opposed to using state funds to pay the Oshkosh foundation’s debts in an email he sent out to reporters and UW System President Ray Cross on May 18.
“You need to keep your commitment that the public won't be forced to fund the inappropriate decisions of two campus administrators and the failed oversight of the System,” Nass wrote in the email.
In January, two former top officials at UW-Oshkosh were sued by the UW System and The Wisconsin Department of Justice for financing some of the foundation’s building projects through mishandled funds. The lawsuit also stated that the officials illegally transferred money from the UW-Oshkosh, a public institution, to the foundation, a private nonprofit.
UW spokesperson Stephanie Marquis told the Wisconsin State Journal the potential settlement would not affect the System’s lawsuit.
UPDATE June 27, 6:49 p.m.: This article was updated to include additional information.