UW-Superior Accused Of Misspending Federal COVID Relief Funds Along With Three Other UW Schools
Four schools in the University of Wisconsin system are accused of misspending federal COVID-19 Relief Funds. One of those schools is the University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS). And while the accusations come from the Legislative Audit Bureau, officials from the schools are "disput[ing] some of the findings".
Along with the University of Wisconsin-Superior, UW-LaCrosse, UW-Platteville, and UW-Stevens Point are included in in the accusations from the arm of the Wisconsin State Legislature.
At issue is the way that the four universities spent $239,000 of the $524 million the University of Wisconsin system received as part of their share of the three federal stimulus bills.
An article in the Wisconsin State Journal details the way the funds were supposedly misspent, citing some specific examples:
- UW-Superior: The audit accuses the school of "offsetting $30,000 in lost alcohol sales from canceled events and $1,500 for a summer musical event".
- UW-LaCrosse: The audit details that the school used the federal funds for "recruitment efforts, including the hiring of a consultant" - which was not allowed under the relief requirements. The school supposedly also spent $54,000 worth of the federal funds on "expenses incurred before March 13, 2020" - which was also not allowed.
- UW-Platteville: The auditors suggest that the school "created online versions of its campuses so that prospective students could tour them".
While UW-LaCrosse has repaid the funds in question, UW-Platteville administrators have countered that the maps "were an 'essential part of orientation to campus life'".
The University of Wisconsin System offered comment via spokesperson Ethan Schuh:
"UW System was vigilant in working with our universities to ensure overwhelming compliance with federal relief funding and believes that with just 0.04% of the funds deemen unallowable, the UW System demonstrated a commitment to fiscal stewardship and accountability during COVID."
The Legislative Audit Bureau provided their recommendations to the UW System for best practices moving forward. Those included "work[ing] on resolving unallowable expenses and offer[ing]written guidance to its universities on allowable uses".