Well, well… the plot thickens.
A former UW-Oshkosh administrator says the financial decisions that the University of Wisconsin System is now suing him for making were widely known and once encouraged by UW’s leaders.
That’s the opposite of what UW officials have claimed since they filed a lawsuit earlier this month against UW-Oshkosh’s former chancellor and Thomas Sonnleitner, its chief business officer from 2000 until last year, for using the university’s money and credit to help fund several UW-Oshkosh Foundation building projects.
System leaders said Sonnleitner and the former chancellor, Richard Wells, illegally arranged for the university to provide millions of dollars in funding and write guarantees backing the foundation’s loans for the projects. They described the actions of Wells and Sonnleitner as “isolated behavior” that was done without the knowledge of UW leaders, who said they quickly investigated the financing when they learned about it in 2016.
Hearkening back to my column that was published this morning, neither contradictory claim covers UWO administrators with glory. If the current Chancellor is right and the former Chancellor allegedly committed these illegal transactions on the sly, then it reveals woefully incompetent and/or corrupt oversight at the university. If the former Chancellor’s claims are accurate that he acted with the widespread knowledge and consent of the leadership at the university, then it reveals a poisonous culture that carelessly accepts the illegal and wasteful spending of public funds.
Either way, there’s a problem.