Alumni Welcome Conference Center to be renamed


Photo courtesy of UWO AWCC website

Pictured above is the UW Oshkosh AWCC.

The UW System will repay debts owed by the UW Oshkosh Foundation in exchange for ownership of the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center and the Witzel Avenue biodigester, according to the Foundation’s reorganization plan.

The plan, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Feb. 1, laid out the Foundation’s plans to reorganize under Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

The filing comes after the Foundation and the Board of Regents came to a $6.3 million settlement in December.

According to the settlement, Craig Culver, co-founder of the Culver’s franchise and 1973 UWO alumnus, will gain the naming rights to the AWCC in exchange for a $2 million donation to the UWO Foundation.

UWO will also pay the UW System $3.8 million over the next 20 years, according to the settlement terms.

In a statement released by the UW System, UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said, “We look forward to working together again to support UW Oshkosh, the region and the citizens of Wisconsin. I thank our partners in the UW Oshkosh Foundation for joining with the University in renewing a spirit of trust, service and philanthropy as we support the experiences and journeys of our students.”

Leavitt declined to comment when contacted by the Advance-Titan.

Foundation Chairman Timothy Mulloy said transferring ownership of the AWCC and biodigester to the UW System won’t affect the day-to-day operations of those facilities because they were already managed by the University.

“The intent always was, especially on the Welcome Center, that it would become an asset of the University ultimately,” Mulloy said. “So, that’s being accomplished now through this process.”

Despite the property’s transfer of ownership, the Foundation can continue operating inside of the AWCC, according to the reorganization plan.

“The [UW] System shall provide support staff as it reasonably and customarily has done in the past, and the parties agree that they will work cooperatively to continue the fundraising operations of the debtor [UWO Foundation],” the reorganization plan said.

The plan also said the Foundation will operate independently of the University and will work to negotiate a merger with the Titan Alumni Foundation, which was launched in fall as a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization led by a volunteer board of directors.

Mulloy said in order to eliminate conflicts of interest, future Foundation CEOs will be hired by the board of directors and will not be University employees.

“We’ll still get support from the University in terms of some admin and things like that,” Mulloy said. “But everybody thought it was best moving forward to have a CEO who reports to the board rather than the chancellor.”

Mulloy said leaders from the UWO Foundation and the Titan Alumni Foundation met Monday to discuss bringing their organizations together.

“Obviously, the intent is to benefit the school, and we want to eliminate donor confusion in ‘where should I direct my money?’” Mulloy said. “If you merge into one Foundation, it takes away those kinds of questions. There’s no sense in having expenses of two Foundations at the same time.”

The UWO Foundation paid $500,000 in legal fees using revenue from the Witzel Avenue biodigester, its hotel interests and management fees from its endowment.

“We’ve paid all of the legal expenses and expenses related to the bankruptcy out of those revenue sources,” Mulloy said. “We have not used any donor money.”

Former UWO Chancellor Richard Wells and former Vice Chancellor Thomas Sonnleitner are facing felony misconduct in office charges in Winnebago County Circuit Court for pledging the University’s financial support if the Foundation could not cover the debt of the building projects. According to Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, they will next appear in court for a status conference on April 2.