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Schoenfeld, Clay (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 49, Number 9 (June 1948)

Ross, Ward; Schoenfeld, Clay
W.A.R.F. report,   pp. 21-31


Page 22


This matter was discussed by      Dr.
Steenbock with Dean Charles S. Slich-
ter, then head of the Graduate School.
Dean Slichter called a meeting of
prominent and interested alumni which
meeting resulted in the organization
of the Wisconsin Alumni Research
Foundation.
   This was a new idea, a social experi-
ment that broke new ground. A private
corporation was to function in develop-
ing a business, but profits, instead of
going to stockholders, were to be uti-
lized in the public interest in the form
of support for research in the natural
sciences at a state university.
   That is how the Wisconsin Alumni
Research Foundation began.
  Other universities had been offered
patentable ideas before by their staff
members who were willing that pos-
sible profits might be devoted to public
rather than private use. Committees
had been formed, sometimes made of
special faculty groups, sometimes a
combination  of regent and    faculty
membership. Such combinations, how-
ever well intentioned, were not cus-
tomarily in position to do business with
dispatch. Where such cumbersome ma-
chinery had been tried, experience had
generally demonstrated that, sooner or
later, it became necessary to establish
outside business connections b e f o r e
success could be attained.
  So a private corporation was formed
with the consent and approval of the
Board of Regents and the president of
the University. The purpose of this
administrative device was to get quick
action where business was to be done.
  The University of Wisconsin was
first among state-controlled institutions
of learning to experiment in this novel
method of handling patentable matters.
The Foundation Is Organized
  The Wisconsin Alumni R e s e a r c h
Foundation, a corporation not for pri-
vate profit, was organized in December
1925.
  The business and purposes of the
corporation were set forth to be "to
promote, encourage and aid scientific
investigation and research at the Uni-
versity of Wisconsin by the faculty,
staff, alumni and students thereof, and
those  associated therewith, and   to
provide or assist in providing the
means and machinery by which their
scientific discoveries, inventions and
processes may be developed, applied
and patented, and the public and com-
mercial uses thereof determined, and
by which such utilization or disposition
may be made of such discoveries, in-
ventions and processes, and patent
rights or interests therein, as may be
of benefit to mankind or as may tend
to stimulate and promote and provide
funds for further scientific investiga-
tion and research within said Univer-
sity or colleges or departments there-
of."
  Since its organization, the WARF
has been governed by a Board of Trus-
tees, the number of which has varied
from five to 10. These Trustees, who
serve without any compensation, are
all alumni of the University of Wiscon-
sin. No members of the Wisconsin staff
or faculty are, or shall be, Trustees of
the Foundation.
22
     FICTION: The WARF has di-
   rected its funds into University
   of Wisconsin research projects
   from which might come profit-
   able patents.
     FACT: Expenditure of WARF
   research funds is in the hands
   of the Research Committee of
   the faculty, with no strings at-
   tached to the grants by the
   WARF except that they be
   used for research in the natural
   sciences. As Harry L. Russell,
   '88, former agriculture dean,
   explains it: "The Foundation
   job is to earn the money and
   give it to the University. The
   professors' job is to spend it as
   wisely as they know how."
   Here is a list of the Board of
Trustees of the Wisconsin Alumni Re-
search Foundation and their occupa-
tions when the Foundation was estab-
lished and under way:
  Thomas E. Brittingham, Wilming-
ton, Dela.;ý Timothy Brown, attorney-
at-law, Madison, Wis.; George I.
Haight, attorney-at-law, Chicago, Ill.;ý
L. M. Hanks, president of First Na-
tional Bank, Madison, Wis., and presi-
dent, Central Wisconsin Trust Co.,
Madison, Wis.; William S. Kies, W. S.
Kies & Co., New York City. (A short
time later, Judge Evan A. Evans of
Chicago was added.)
  Under the supervision of the Board
of Trustees, the Foundation has a full-
time staff of personnel for the purpose
of conducting its regular business
operations.
  The WARF operations include the
following:
  1. The administration of patents on
inventions.
  2. The conducting of a specialized
processing operation in the dairy field.
  3. The operation of a testing labora-
tory for the biological assaying of
many nutritional factors such as vita-
mins, minerals, and insecticides.
  The Foundation maintains offices in
Madison, Chicago, and New York. Its
main office is at Madison and all of
its operaticns there, formerly conducted
in space rented from the University of
Wisconsin, are now consolidated in the
Foundation's own buildings located on
Walnut St. near the United States
Forest Products Laboratory. At that
location the Foundation occupies a sin-
     FICTION: The WARF is a
  drug combine.
     FACT: The WARF is a foun-
  dation, not for private profit,
  established to protect the pub-
  lic from unscrupulous commer-
  cialism, to secure wide-spread
  use of the products and proc-
  esses it regulates, and to en-
  dow research at the University
  of Wisconsin.
gle-story laboratory building and a
four-story laboratory and office build-
ing.
   The Foundation came into being, as
 we have said, as a mechanism to handle
 the widely heralded invention, made by
 Professor Steenbock of the biochemis-
 try department of the University in
 1925, relating to the production of vita-
 min D in medicinal products and foods
 by activation with ultra-violet rays.
 The Steenbock invention was, after its
 completion, patented in the U n i t e d
 States and in many foreign countries
 and was the first invention adminis-
 tered by the Foundation. The first
 license under the Steenbock patent
 went to the Quaker Oats Company.
   The plan of organization was also
made broad enough to permit the Foun-
dation Trustees to accept any other
proffers of patentable ideas. Hardly a
month passes in which the executive
office is not called upon to counsel with
University staff members or alumni
who seek opinions as to the patentabil-
ity of their ideas. So experienced in
such matters has the WARF become
that it is frequently being petitioned to
act as an agent by colleges and organ-
izations outside of Wisconsin.
What WARF Is and Isn't
  The Foundation is a corporate entity
separate and apart from and in no way
controlled by the University admin-
istration or its governing Board of
Regents. It has been the policy of the
Foundation to benefit the public by
making annual grants, in accordance
with its Articles of Organization, of
funds for research   in the natural
sciences at the University of Wisconsin.
The amount of these annual grants has
approximated the investment income of
the Foundation on its portfolio of real
estate investments, bonds, mortgages,
common and preferred stocks.
  Funds given by the Foundation to
the University are administered solely
under the direction of the University's
Research Committee. It has annually
been the practice for the Research
Committee to outline to the Foundation
its need of funds for the carrying on
of proposed research work and for the
Foundation then to make grants in the
amounts indicated by the Research
Committee. The amount of these an-
nual grants from the Foundation to
the University now aggregates some
$3,890,000. These grants have involved
a total of 1,852 different research proj-
ects. We'll elaborate on these figures
later.
  In the granting of funds for re-
search at Wisconsin, the Foundation
strictly adheres to the policy of "never
crossing the campus line." The Founda-
tion never in any way dictates, guides,
or suggests the nature of the research
work to be done by research workers
at the University on funds supplied by
the Foundation. The nature of such
research work is solely under the con-
trol of the University's Research Com-
mittee. Funds granted by the Founda-
tion are granted with absolutely no
"strings" attached. If a r e s e a r c h
worker, working on a WARF grant,
makes a patentable invention, the
Foundation has no vested rights what-
ever in this invention by reason of
having supplied money without which


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