UW-Oshkosh’s foundation has spent heavily in recent years on technology that converts manure and other organic material into electricity — a strategy that is both legal and mirrors a trend among colleges of using private foundations to generate revenue.
But the university is running into problems for funneling public money through its foundation for projects, which UW System officials say is illegal.
The funding included the development of a waste-to-energy system at Wisconsin’s largest dairy farm, where costs escalated, prompting administrators to divert school funds to help pay for the project, according to court records.
UW System officials filed the suit Jan. 18 against former Chancellor Richard H. Wells and Thomas G. Sonnleitner, the former vice chancellor for administrative services, for tapping school funds that should have come from the foundation.
This is a big poo storm that involves the illegal use of taxpayer funds and such, but it also reveals some more fundamental problems with the decision making within the UW System. The University and the Foundation are allegedly committed to providing an excellent education for students. The Foundation’s webpage even says:
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation contributes to academic excellence. It is an organization committed to advancing higher education and ensuring that UW Oshkosh students enjoy successful futures.
So during the years in which the Foundation and the University were planning and spending millions of dollars on a biodigester did anyone posit the question, “how does this contribute to academic excellence for our students?” If so, what was the answer? If not, why not? Why are they doing it?
Stories like this reaffirm the opinion that there isn’t too little money in our UW System – there is too much. There is so much money lying around that officials are literally throwing taxpayer, tuition, and donated money at shitty projects because they can’t think of a better use for it. When resources are truly scarce, things like this don’t happen.