Change in WMAA’s Corporate Status

January 31, 2020
VOL 21 NO 4

Many alumni may not realize that WMAA was created in 1956 as a non-stock corporation. Over the past 64 years, the landscape has changed significantly.

Now, maintaining the non-stock corporation costs nearly $10,000 per year and causes a heavy administrative burden on WMAA staff. The time is right to consider retiring the old structure and moving toward a less costly, more efficient model. Consistent with WMAA’s mission to be good stewards of its resources, our WMAA executive committee feels that the association will be best served by fully tapping into the infrastructure of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH). This will allow WMAA to focus even more keenly on providing excellent services for our alumni and students.

We have the full support of SMPH Dean Robert N. Golden, MD, for the proposed new structure, which will uphold WMAA’s existing governance, board of directors, bylaws, strategic plan, space and staffing. As always, your gifts to WMAA will continue to be deposited at the UW Foundation to bolster WMAA programmatic activities, student initiatives and scholarships.


As a result of recent legal issues involving the fundraising foundation at a different UW System campus, the State of Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) conducted a review of non-profit organizations affiliated with UW System campuses. WMAA was one of the organizations specifically reviewed by the LAB. Although no fiscal irregularities were identified with respect to WMAA, questions were raised about WMAA because it is operated by University employees out of University space. Under a new UW System policy, affiliated non-profits that receive administrative support from UW System campuses are subject to new annual disclosure and reporting requirements, and must reimburse campuses for the full value of services and space provided by campuses to the affiliates, including overhead. This new UW System policy led SMPH to examine the relationship between WMAA and SMPH, and whether the benefits of WMAA remaining a separate legal entity from SMPH outweigh the burdens. SMPH has concluded that the traditional mission and structure of WMAA can be replicated within SMPH as an advisory body to the Dean, creating financial efficiencies while still allowing WMAA considerable latitude to establish funding priorities and manage funds raised by WMAA.

Accordingly, a proposal whereby WMAA would transition from a non-stock Wisconsin corporation to a program within SMPH will be presented for approval by the Board and the voting members of WMAA at the annual meeting on Friday, April 24, 2020. The transition would include formally dissolving the non-stock Wisconsin corporation status of WMAA, and reestablishing WMAA as an advisory body within SMPH with its traditional mission and structure intact.

Dissolution is recommended because its current status as an independent non-profit corporation results in administrative costs of nearly $10,000 per year. In addition, a recent UW System policy regarding affiliated organizations will impose additional record-keeping and financial burdens on WMAA and SMPH.

At the spring 2019 meeting of the WMAA Board of Directors, SMPH Dean Robert N. Golden, MD, stated that dissolution of WMAA’s corporate status will not change WMAA’s governance structure, board of directors, bylaws, strategic plan, space or staffing. Funds raised by WMAA will continue to support programmatic activities, student initiatives and scholarships for students. All funds raised by WMAA will continue to be deposited into existing WMAA fund accounts, administered by the UW Foundation.

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