The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh must pay $15 million to cover the debts of the university's private foundation in connection to several high-profile building projects, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

That puts the foundation's outstanding debt, ultimately, on the taxpayers of Wisconsin. However, the state can, and likely will, appeal the decision.

Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan Kelley issued a partial summary judgment Wednesday, saying letters from two former UW-Oshkosh administrators, promising to use university money to bail out the foundation, constitute enforceable contracts and therefore must be honored.

"There is no question that the construction of facilities designed to serve the University's students and the surrounding community serves a public purpose," Kelley wrote in her decision.

Read more in the Oshkosh Northwestern.