Former UW-Madison journalism grad Bob Sollen dies at 97

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Bob Sollen, a UW-Madison graduate who once wrote a column that criticized and shook up its journalism school, died Friday, May 10. He was 97.

Bob Sollen
Bob Sollen

Sollen was born in 1921 in Menominee, Mich. After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, Sollen graduated from UW-Madison in 1948 with his bachelor’s degree in political science and journalism.

During his senior year at UW, Sollen wrote a column for The Daily Cardinal student newspaper that ripped the J-School, calling it “stagnant and obsolete.” The story was picked up by newspapers across Wisconsin and eventually led to the demotion of the school’s director.

In 1970, Sollen married his wife Tomika. They remained together for 46 years, until her death in October 2016.

Sollen, who worked for 22 years at the Santa Barbara News-Press before retiring in 1985, was best known as the reporter who broke the story of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. He later wrote a book about the spill and offshore drilling.

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