University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Hove, Arthur (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 62, Number 15 (July 1961)

Oscar Rennebohm ends his term as a member of the Board of Regents,   p. 48


Page 48


O SCAR RENNEBOHM, colorful
     former-Governor of Wisconsin, has
concluded nine years of service to the
University as a member of the Board of
Regents. Governor Nelson appointed
Maurice Pasch, a Madison attorney and
a member of the Class of 1936 to suc-
ceed Rennebohm as the latter's term as
a Wisconsin Regent expired in June.
   During the time that he has been a
Regent, Oscar Rennebohm's signal con-
tribution to the University has been the
development of the University Hill
Farms. This tract of land, on the west
side of Madison, was formerly part of
the University's agricultural experiment
site. It has since been parceled into com-
mercial and residential lots for sale to
the general public. The net return from
the sale of the land is expected to exceed
$3.5 million; and the assets realized
from the development of Hilldale Shop-
ping Center, a corporate venture in the
Hill Farms area, will go to the Univer-
sity for scholarship, research, and edu-
cation. When it is completed, the proj-
ect will mean added income for the
University (comparable to a $10 mil-
lion endowment) and added tax funds
for the city of Madison.
  Besides being the divining force be-
hind the Hill Farms development, Ren-
nebohm has supported the University in
numerous other ways. The Rennebohm
Scholarships are awarded yearly to phar-
macy and general students. These schol-
arships are designed to help the needy
student who has a difficult time of pay-
ing his or her way through school.
  In 1958, the Oscar Rennebohm Foun-
dation gave $40,000 to the University
of Wisconsin Medical School to support
lung capillary research. This fund was
instrumental in recently securing an ar-
tificial kidney for the Medical School.
  In addition, Rennebohm has willingly
given his support to other University
projects such as the building of the Wis-
consin Center, and the remodeling of
the Carillon Tower.
  Oscar Rennebohm came from humble
beginnings. He was born in the town of
Leeds, Columbia County, one of nine
children. After working in a drug store
for a year after he graduated from East
Division High School in Milwaukee, he
came to the University and graduated in
the pharmacy course in 1911. Follow-
ing graduation, he went to work for a
Madison druggist and a year later pur-
chased an insolvent drug store on the
site of University Avenue and North
Randall. The hard work and long hours
OSCAR RENNEBOHM
                               ends his term as
                               a member o0 the
                            Board of Regents
48
that he put in at his store soon began to
show results. In 1920 he bought a sec-
ond drugstore near the Capitol and be-
gan adding more stores until the present
number of Rennebohm stores in the city
and its suburbs is 17.
   Gov. Rennebohm began his political
 career in 1944 when he was elected to
 the office of Lieutenant Governor of the
 State. When Governor Walter S. Good-
 land died in office in 1947, Rennebohm
 succeeded him and was elected Gover-
 nor by the people in 1948. He served as
 Governor until 1950 when he retired
 from the governorship on the advice of
 his physician.
   During his administration, Renne-
 bohm   was known    for making    ad-
 vances in the veteran's housing program,
 changes in public education, was respon-
 sible for increased building programs at
 the state colleges and the University,
 and advances in the state's program for
 the mentally ill. When he retired from
 the governorship, the Capitol press corps
 gave him a testimonial dinner, an honor
 never before accorded   an  outgoing
 governor.
   As a regent, Gov. Rennebohm has
always protected the interests of the
"little guy" and he has continually im-
plored the Regents to be aware of their
responsibilities to the taxpayers of 'the
state.
   Although he has been criticized for it,
he has continually fought to utilize the
potential of the Bascom Woods site for
University buildings.
   As his "swan song" he told the Re-
gents: "You can't continue to ask the
taxpayers of this state to pay $430,000
an acre for land off the campus and let
a lot of land with second growth trees
stay vacant." And he insisted that "the
land would be more beautiful if the
woods were cut down and the area built
on, landscaped and gardened."
  In 1959, Oscar Rennebohm was
named "Alumnus of the Year" by the
Wisconsin Alumni Association. He was
cited "for his outstanding contributions
to the University of Wisconsin as gov-
ernor of the state; as a director of the
Wisconsin Alumni Association; as a
charter member and president of the
University of Wisconsin Foundation; as
a distinguished member of the Univer-
sity Board of Regents; and as a con-
sistently loyal friend and supporter of
the University for half a century."
     Wisconsin Alumnus, July, 1961


Go up to Top of Page