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Richard, George (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 59, Number 11 (March 1958)

Conrad Arnold Elvehjem: 13th president of the University,   pp. [2]-[7]


Page 6


          President Fred
"seldom makes a mistake"
  As a result, he seldom makes a mistake, but often deci-
sions are a long time in the making.
  Dean Elvehjem likes to act more directly. He moves
faster, accepts the judgment of his advisers more quickly.
One faculty friend said:
  "He may get burned a few times, but the tempo will
step up."
  Dr. Fred can delegate authority, but he never really
likes to entirely "let go." He follows through on things to
see they are done the way he wants. It is one of the rea-
sons he has been an effective president, but the technique
is a tremendous consumer of administrative time and
strength.
  Elvehjem finds it easier to delegate authority. He out-
lines an assignment to trusted colleagues or subordinates,
then turns it over to them to carry out.
  Elvehjem is an exponent of direct action. He may seem
casual or matter of fact about matters, but he wants to
get things done, and as soon as possible.
  President Fred is more diffuse. He knows what he wants
accomplished, but he is willing to take the long way
around to get it.
  A pleasant exterior marks Dean Elvehjem. He enjoys a
good joke and can spin an anecdote with skill. But rather
quickly he is inclined to "get down to business" and to
"get the show on the road."
  On the other hand, President Fred is an accomplished
master of small talk. Approach him for information before
he has made up his mind, and he'll so entertainingly divert
you with fox hunting or Warrentown, Va., or some other
pleasant subject that it seems inappropriate to intrude.
  It is an art that has charmed legislators, business men,
faculty, and with it he has bought time to reach a scien-
tist's decision.
  In his dedication to his work. President Fred has kept
himself free from distractions and trivialities, anything in
fact that might interfere with what he considers an effec-
tive execution of his job.
  He finds speech-making difficult, so he talks only when
there is something important to be said, and no one else
to say it.
  He is not a "joiner," and his membership is restricted
to scientific and academic societies.
  He ventures seldom into "society," but when he does
all are delighted by his soft voice, his quick humor, his
gallantry.
  No introvert, he lives a life of self-imposed exile from
the unimportant things that others find pleasant.
President-designate Elvehjem
"an exponent of direct action"
  By contrast, Dean Elvehjem has spread himself widely
and has cultivated a multitude of interests. He speaks eas-
ily and with authority on many important subjects. He has
been active in his church, in literary societies, on the board
of the alumni association, and the downtown Rotary club.
  He attends banquets of the Chamber of Commerce. He
is one of many on the campus who have done much to
bring Town and Gown together and make them under-
stand each other.
  Between the two men there has always been under-
standing, respect, and affection. President Fred would not
be presumptuous enough to "push" a favorite candidate.
Repeatedly he said it was the regent's job to pick the
best man. Nevertheless, faculty opinion- is that Fred was
pleased with the election of Elvehjem.
  Thus, Fred, the teacher, prepares to hand over the reins
to Elvehjem, his student. Two great men have planned a
new glory for Wisconsin.
President Fred Will Get a New
Title; Has a Project in Mind
W HEN HE STEPS away from the University of
      Wisconsin presidency on June 30, President
E. B. Fred will be designated president emeritus and
professor emeritus of bacteriology; he will receive
$13,000 a year, half of his present pay, and be
"assigned duties from time to time" by the Regents
and the new president.
  And President Fred hinted at one project in which
he is particularly interested-establishment of a uni-
versity art center to collect in one place paintings
and other works of art now in basements of various
campus buildings.
  "In my judgment, there is no other building
which could be given by private generosity that
would more enhance the cultural influence of the
University than an art center and gallery," he ob-
served to the Regents at the meeting at which his
successor, Dr. Elvehjem, was named.
Wisconsin Alumnus, March, 1958
6


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