The Department of Neurology at the University of Wisconsin evolved from the Department of Neuropsychiatry, which was established in 1925. The first Chair of the Department of Neuropsychiatry was Dr. W. F. Lorenz, who served in this capacity until 1939. Dr. Hans Reese succeeded Dr. Lorenz and served from 1940–1946. From 1946–1954, the Chair rotated among Drs. Lorenz, Mabel Marsten, Hans Reese, and W. J. Bleckwenn.
In 1956, the Department of Neuropsychiatry was divided into the Department of Psychiatry and Department of Neurology, led by Dr. Reese until 1958. Dr. Francis M. Forster, one of the four founding members of the American Academy of Neurology and Dean of the Georgetown University Medical School, assumed the Chair in 1958 and continued in this role through 1977. Drs. Harold Booker and Raymond Chun served as acting Chairs until 1980, when Dr. Henry S. Schutta began a fifteen–year tenure as head of the Department. Dr. Thomas P. Sutula was appointed chair in 1995, and served for 21 years until Dr. Kathleen Shannon was appointed in 2016.