The Titan Alumni Foundation offers academic funding

An independent board of directors announced on Monday the creation of a new alumni-driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to raise money to support student scholarships and other needs.

The Titan Alumni Foundation was created to raise money to support more than 16,000 students’ education at UW Oshkosh. It is a separate organization from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation, which has been in place since 1963. The UWOF continues to contribute to academic excellence for UWO students, but it is at the center of several court cases, including a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Both the TAF and the UWOF are separate and distinct legal entities from UWO and qualify as tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

The TAF was proposed in fall of 2017, formed shortly after on Dec. 19, and available for student scholarships starting Sept. 12, 2018.

According to the UWO Financial Aid Office, of the 82 percent of students who apply through FAFSA, more than 75 percent receive some type of assistance.

“The purpose of the Titan Alumni Foundation is to provide a predictable place for alumni and other friends of the University to contribute funds toward the mission of the University,” said Scott Barr, a UWO alumnus, Appleton lawyer and president of the new foundation.

Barr said there was a call to action for another foundation to be put in place.

“We were hearing from alumni and others through various channels that they were reluctant to make contributions [to the UW Oshkosh Foundation] because they could not predict whether the funds that they were contributing were going to be used for intended purposes,” Barr said.
Barr said that due to the current litigation surrounding the UWOF, alumni came forth and organized the TAF.

“We hope that the UW Oshkosh Foundation will come through this bankruptcy and will be a strong functioning organization again at that time,” Barr said. “I expect that will be several months, if not years from now. There is no real way to predict that, which is why we needed to take action now so that there’s some place during this interim period for people to make contributions.”

According to Barr, members of the TAF board will meet once a month to look at how things are going.

“If and and when they come through bankruptcy, then we’ll address how the two organizations will work together, will merge together, one replaces the other, one goes out of existence — who knows what that will be,” Barr said.

Lynn Kleman, UWO interim associate vice chancellor of development in the Office of Advancement, said UWO alumnus Jerry Gonyo came forth with a donation to help get the TAF started.

“It was not a gift that was asked for; it was a gift on behalf of him and his love of the institution and his want to further this initiative,” Kleman said. “This was completely alumni driven.”

UWO Director of Communications Mandy Potts said she is excited about the new foundation.

“We want this to be viewed as a positive thing,” Potts said. “Really, the intent at the truest form is to help students with scholarship dollars in the future. We on the University side feel thankful that this is a partnership that is going to help our students in the future.”

Representatives from the UWO Foundation did not respond to an attempt for a comment.
Students can apply for scholarships through the TAF on the Academic Works website.