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UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Expected To Testify Over Possibly Competing Fundraising Efforts

UW-Oshkosh Foundation Still Making Its Way Through Federal Bankruptcy Court

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University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt is expected to give a deposition in federal bankruptcy court.

Leavitt will likely be asked questions as to why the school set up a foundation that some see as competing with the existing UW-Oshkosh Foundation, which is in the midst of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The UW-Oshkosh Foundation got into financial trouble through a series of development projects on and off campus set up by former officials, and is in a complicated legal case which has resulted in criminal charges against the school’s former chancellor and vice chancellor.

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Earlier this year, UW-Oshkosh created the competing fund, Titan Alumni Fund, which raises money for scholarships.

Paul Swanson, a lawyer for the decades-old UW-Oshkosh Foundation, said the foundation felt “blindsided” by the new fund, that the new fund duplicates what his client already does. Swanson claims the new fund may be poaching donors.

“We have good information that basically the chancellor or others at the university attempted to divert those pledges to the new foundation or another foundation,” Swanson said.

Swanson said he expects Leavitt to give testimony within the next month.

“We got a little consternation I guess, about the fact that now we’ve got a competitive foundation doing the same thing we do with the same purposes, same donors,” Swanson said.

Swanson said the foundation is ready to emerge from bankruptcy early next year.

An assistant attorney general representing the University of Wisconsin System told the Appleton Post-Crescent that the UW-Oshkosh Foundation doesn’t “have a monopoly on supporting the university.”

The UW-Oshkosh Foundation was forced to declare bankruptcy over an alumni welcome center, sports complex and two bio-digesters. A hotel the foundation invested in has since become financially solvent.

The projects were negotiated by former Chancellor Richard Wells and former Vice Chancellor Thomas Sonnleitner. It is alleged the two told lenders the loans would be guaranteed by the UW System.

Leavitt came to the school after the deals were made and had no involvement with them.