John Fett, professor emeritus of life sciences communication, dies at 85

The following is a press release published by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences that has been adapted and republished here.

John Fett, a professor emeritus and former chairman of the Department of Life Sciences Communication who shaped the department’s course for more than three decades, on Jan. 30, 2018. He was 85.
John Fett

Born on May 7, 1932 in Plymouth, Wis., he earned a trifecta of degrees from UW–Madison: a B.S. in Agricultural Journalism (now Life Sciences Communication) in 1961, a M.S. in Agricultural Journalism in 1962 and a Ph.D. in Mass Communication in 1967. He was hired as an instructor at the university in 1962 and joined the faculty of the Department of Agricultural Journalism as a professor in 1967.

John served as chair of the department from 1977 to 1982 and retired in 1997. He spent his career teaching classes in radio, film and publications. His research focused on development communication, information program evaluation, theory and practice of communication in rural development in developing countries and evaluation of extension and other education information programs.

“John was a great friend to me, our department and the UW as a whole. He taught, advised students, and researched with distinction throughout his career. We will greatly miss his warmth and wit,” said LSC professor emeritus and senior lecturer Larry Meiller.

In 1967, John took a leave of absence from the university to spend three years at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil, with a U.S. Agency for International Development program.

An informal open house will be held for family and friends on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the family home, located at 5225 Comanche Way, Madison. In lieu of flowers, friends may donate to the American Heart Association. To learn more about Fett’s life, read his full obituary at