Conrad Elvehjem, then dean of the Graduate School, was chosen to succeed E. B. Fred on February 1, 1958, and he took office on July 1 of that year.
Elvehjem was born near McFarland, Wisconsin on May 17, 1901. He received three degrees from the University of Wisconsin, a BS (1923), MS (1924) and PhD (1927) all in agricultural chemistry. Other than one year spent as a National Research Council fellow at Cambridge University, Elvehjem spent his entire academic career at Wisconsin, starting as an assistant in agricultural chemistry in 1923 and becoming a full professor in 1936.
He chaired the Department of Biochemistry from 1944 to 1958 and served as dean of the Graduate School from 1946 to 1958. His research centered on the biological function of vitamins and minerals, and he is best known for isolating niacin in the late 1930s. During his administration the university expanded rapidly, and he oversaw the continued growth of the Milwaukee campus and the expansion of WARF (Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation) support for all areas of research on campus.
Elvehjem died from a heart attack while working in his office on the Madison campus on July 27, 1962.