By Miles Maguire
A federal judge has ordered UW Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt and an aide to submit to questioning by attorneys for the school’s long-established foundation, who say the two university officials have been working to interfere with pledges that were made to pay for the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center.
In an order dated Oct.11, Chief Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley said Leavitt and Robert Roberts, interim executive director of advancement, must appear at the offices of the foundation’s lawyers and supply records related to the university’s newly formed fundraising arm, the Titan Alumni Foundation.
But state lawyers have moved to block the exam, arguing that the judge’s order is too broad and would interfere with the university’s efforts to raise money through its new foundation.
The standoff between the two foundations comes at a time of increased financial distress for the university. State records show that UW Oshkosh lost $7.1 million in the last fiscal year, after losing $10.3 million in the prior 12 months. The school has announced a plan for “right-sizing” that will mean job losses as well as increased workloads for many remaining staffers.
Meanwhile the UW Oshkosh Foundation is sitting on $22.5 million in assets but is locked in a legal battle with the UW System. With the permission of the bankruptcy court, the foundation has been processing significant sums in the form of scholarships, almost $800,000 in September alone, according to a foundation board member.