The UW-Madison Office of Business Engagement has found its new managing director in John Garnetti, a former Foxconn Technology Group official who left the company in 2019.
The Taiwanese company has had a controversial reputation in Wisconsin since their introduction to the state in 2018. In February, Foxconn was sued by a developer due to a breach of contract involving a project that was supposed to bring 13,000 jobs to the state.
This comes during a five-year agreement between the university and Foxconn, where the company agreed to put $100 million towards the construction of a new engineering building, and other company-related research. Two years in, only $700,000 has been received, all of which was given in the first year of the agreement.
“UW-Madison continues to maintain open lines of communication with Foxconn representatives,” university spokesman John Lucas said to the Wisconsin State Journal. “Although Foxconn is in the best position to explain its plans, the university understands that changes in the firm’s executive leadership, business goals and impact of the pandemic have resulted in shifting priorities.”
Louis Woo and founder Terry Gou, who both attended the ceremony in which Foxconn agreed to give $100 million to the university, are included in the list of employees who have left the company since the beginning of the deal.
Lucas told the State Journal that Garnetti, who was the company’s deputy director of U.S. strategic initiatives, was not hired specifically because of his ties with Foxconn.
Garnetti graduated from the University of Florida with an economics degree in 2009. Before joining Foxconn in 2014, he worked in Asia. With a current salary of $145,000, Garnetti will only make $1,000 more than his predecessor.
“Driving more significant, mutually beneficial and sustainable relationships with the business community, while raising awareness of the university’s breadth and depth of resources are some of our key priorities,” Assistant Vice Chancellor for Industry Engagement Christopher Kozina said in a release. “His background in business development, complex problem solving and multi-cultural relationship building will greatly benefit the Office of Business Engagement and UW-Madison.”
In an April 8 hiring announcement, the university said Garnetti brings a “distinct” set of skills to the role.
“[Garnetti] is well versed in international business practices and fluent in Mandarin Chinese,” they said in the release. “His experience working with leaders in the private and public sectors will aid OBE in its goal of growing corporate engagement that spans sponsored research, professional development, corporate philanthropy and talent solutions.”