Monday, January 13, 2020

Dedicated UW Oshkosh professor left $1.9 million for international studies program he built over 5 decades

UW Oshkosh photo
Kenneth Grieb, far right middle row, poses with students at Model United Nations competition in 2016.

This post has been updated to add detail about the Grieb bequest.

By Miles Maguire
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation has received a $1.9 million bequest from the estate of the longtime director of the school’s International Studies Program, Kenneth J. Grieb.

Grieb, who died in 2018, headed international studies for more than 50 years and was especially successful in advising students who participated in the National Model UN program. For more than 30 years in a row, Oshkosh teams under his direction were recognized as outstanding delegations, the top award in the competition.

The Grieb bequest was one of three major gifts the university foundation received last year, according to a letter to donors that was sent last week. The other donations were:

  • $150,000 from the estate of former Chancellor John Kerrigan to be used for faculty awards and a student scholarship fund.
  • $1 million from the Culver Family Foundation, which was used to complete a naming rights agreement for the university’s riverfront welcome center.
These gifts “demonstrate our donor community’s commitment to the UWO Foundation and support our passion to living out our mission as a proactive leader in helping shape and refine the vision of excellence of the university,” said foundation Chairman Timothy Mulloy.

“As we look ahead to 2020, we are entering the next decade full of optimism and a renewed vigor to living out our mission,” Mulloy told donors.

The donations to the foundation contrast with an otherwise bleak financial picture for the university. Falling enrollment and a reduced level of state support are crimping the school’s budget and contributing to a shortfall that could be more than $4 million next year.

The foundation is legally distinct from the university and only recently emerged from bankrupcty. These court proceedings resulted from a dispute over certain real estate investments that were initiated by former Chancellor Richard Wells, including the showpiece Culver Family Welcome Center.

Wells and a former top lieutenant are due in court on Wednesday to enter plea agreements that are expected to wrap up civil and criminal cases against them.

According to Mulloy, the foundation is close to signing a new agreement with the university. “We have also been working diligently on major improvements within our organization, including enhancements to our bylaws,” he said.

During the bankruptcy, the foundation was able to continue certain support programs, but money for scholarships to recruit new students was reduced. Chancellor Andrew Leavitt has said the lack of recuitment scholarships has been a factor in the enrollment decline.

Mulloy’s letter said the Grieb gift would be used “for a permanent endowment to support research and course development” for international studies.

A press release from the foundation provided additional detail about how the money will be used based on Grieb's vision for international studies at UW Oshkosh.
This gift is a permanent endowment meant to facilitate professional scholarship through the support of research, including research-related travel, research assistance, reproduction costs and other related expenses.
[Grieb] spent the majority of his career engaging students interested in the study of political, economic, social and cultural issues from an interdisciplinary, global perspective.
Recognizing there will always be a need for graduates, as well as faculty who can teach this content with a special focus on helping to prepare leaders who are well equipped to lead in today’s global economy, this professorship was created to offer a continuum of financial support.
The aim of this fund is to support research and course development within the International Studies Program’s topical emphasis including African, Asian and Latin Studies. This fund also serves as a catalyst to continue to support the tradition of excellence and the legacy of lifelong learning.
University officials were not immediately available to provide additional details about the use of the money, which will be overseen by a donor advisory board at the foundation. 

The school is conducting a national search for a new director of international studies. 

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