In honor of CALS' 125th anniversary, a look at how alumni and friends help keep the college strong

“It’s the Right Thing to Do”

One of our college’s most loyal supporters is not a CALS alumnus.

Bob Tramburg holds a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering and an MBA in finance, both from UW–Madison. But as president and CEO of Vita Plus, an employee-owned livestock nutrition company, he has a deep sense of CALS’ value to Wisconsin agriculture.

“We look to CALS to provide us some of that green stock coming out of the educational system,”Tramburg says, noting that Vita Plus hires a good many CALS grads. “And we also look to CALS for research that we can utilize in our products.”

Tramburg’s own leap from nuclear engineering to agriculture is not very surprising when one considers his background.

“I sort of had it in my blood. I grew up in a family that owned part of a feed mill. My grandfather owned it originally,” he says. “And that feed mill was purchased by Vita Plus in the early ’70s, right before I joined the company.”

Moreover, Tramburg’s stepfather, Lyle Hill, was one of the founders of Vita Plus. “After I got my master’s degree he made an offer for me to go to work at Vita Plus, which I accepted, and I came to understand the relationship that Vita Plus has with CALS,”Tramburg says.

As an individual donor, Tramburg generously gives to the CALS Annual Fund as well as to Wisconsin Rural Youth Scholarships and the Aberle Faculty Fellow Fund. And each year his company offers the Vita Plus Dairy Nutrition and Management Fellowship, providing financial support to a graduate student in dairy science.

“People who are educated at CALS are really our future,”Tramburg says, noting that they will affect the company’s ability to serve customers in coming years and decades.

This year Vita Plus was also one of the first companies to sign on as a corporate sponsor for events and programs marking CALS’ 125th anniversary.

As generous as Tramburg is to CALS, he and his wife, Angela—a graduate of the School of Nursing—also support a number of other UW programs and activities, most notably The Grandparents’ Network, a Waisman Center–based support and resource group for families whose members have disabilities. The Tramburgs became involved when one of their grandchildren was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

For Tramburg, giving generously is not merely a responsibility.

“It’s more than that. It’s just the right thing to do,” Tramburg says. “You have some success and you want to share it with organizations that have provided something to you or your family or your business—and that’s the relationship that Vita Plus has with CALS, that’s the relationship that I have with the University of Wisconsin in total. One of my hopes is that whatever my wife and I do—whether it’s for CALS, whether it’s for the business school or the nursing school—will help maintain that level of excellence at the University of Wisconsin. That’s our goal.”