CALS alums Robert Bush and Milton Friend to receive UW-Madison honorary degrees

Two CALS alumni are among five who will be receiving UW-Madison honorary degrees on May 14. The Doctor of Science honorary degree will be conferred on Robert G. Bush, chair emeritus of Schreiber Foods, located in Green Bay, and Milton Friend, emeritus scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center.

Bush received his B.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin in food science and spent his professional career with Schreiber Foods, ultimately serving as chairman of the board. The company is the world’s second-largest cheese company, trailing only Kraft Foods. During Bush’s time with the company, Schreiber grew from having one plant and fewer than 50 employees in Green Bay, to 19 plants throughout Wisconsin and in Mexico, Germany and Brazil. He invented machines that revolutionized the company and the industry; they are now sold on the international market. Throughout the years, he fostered a company ethic of food quality, food safety and worker safety.

Bush has served on the boards of many community organizations, assuming leadership roles and giving his time and energy to their causes. This includes 20 years on the board of the Bellin Hospital, where he underwrote its new orthopedic unit; leading a fundraising drive for a free clinic in Northeast Wisconsin; and significant service to the YMCA, United Way, and his county water and library boards. He is also involved with an organization that provides childcare and early education services. Bush has also served on boards for UW-Madison, UW-Green Bay, UW-Oshkosh and St. Norbert College. He has contributed time and business expertise to a number of corporate boards.

Friend received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in veterinary science/wildlife ecology and became a leader and innovator in the area of wildlife disease, conservation and management. In 1973, a waterfowl disease in South Dakota killed thousands of ducks and no organization was able to respond to the emergency or prevent another outbreak. Friend saw that federal action was needed to address national wildlife disease issues. In response, he developed the concept for and created the National Wildlife Health Center in the face of difficult economic and political challenges. His idea eventually grew to become a unit of the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geologic Survey, which is today a critical part of preserving wildlife, human and ecosystem health. The impact of his work can be felt throughout the country and in many parts of the world for his many contributions to wildlife conservation and environmental stewardship.

Friend has served as member of and technical adviser to many scientific organizations and has received many honors and awards from governmental, educational and civic organizations for his work as a scholar, author, scientist, educator and public servant. He developed wildlife disease biology curricula at universities and schools around the world and has also worked to recruit and retain minority scientists and professionals in the field.

The university will bestow the honorary degrees during its Ph.D. and professional degrees ceremony on Friday, May 14, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Kohl Center. That ceremony is the first of five UW-Madison spring commencement ceremonies scheduled for the weekend.

Honorary degrees are awarded in recognition of extraordinary accomplishment and achievement. The process for awarding the degrees begins with nominations from UW-Madison academic departments to the institution’s 28-member Committee on Honorary Degrees. Nominees who receive the approval of that committee are then recommended to the UW-Madison chancellor, UW System Board of Regents and the UW-Madison Faculty Senate for approval.