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J. Stuart Dales

Secretary to the Board of Regents

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University Hall

The remarkable career of J. Stuart Dales is a long and noteworthy chapter in the history of the University. Dales followed the first Chancellor, Allen Benton, to Nebraska in 1871. Arriving in Lincoln he pursued not only a University degree, but also the Chancellor's daughter Grace, whom he subsequently married. He was a member of the first graduating class of two in 1873, and received a Masters Degree in 1876. As a student, he was a founding member and spokesperson for the Palladian Society, the most important social organization on campus during the University's first decades. His son, Benton Dales, served as Chair and Professor of Chemistry.

In December, 1875, Dales was hired by the University to serve as the Secretary to the Board of Regents. At this time he worked out of his downtown office where he also practiced law and served the city of Lincoln as a judge. Dales studied law as a University student, but did not receive a degree since the College of Law did not exist until 1891.

In 1885 Dales moved into University Hall and his title was enlarged to Steward. His duties were expanded to include all financial and business affairs of the growing institution. A one point Dales was in charge of Buildings and Grounds, served as Purchasing Agent and Construction Supervisor, monitored real estate transactions, and acted as University accountant and financial advisor. All of these duties were in addition to his work with the Regents.

As the University grew, many of these duties were transferred to other men, but Dales continued to serve as Secretary to the Regents until he retired in 1932. He had witnessed the arrival and departure of 10 chancellors, dramatic increases in enrollment, several campus expansions and the development of the farm. He had witnessed the University's survival during two serious economic depressions and seen University students march off to two wars. In 1933 Dales was awarded an honorary LLD by the Board of Regents as acknowledgement for his years of service to the University of Nebraska.

Source Information:
Manley, Robert. Centennial History of the University of Nebraska. I. Frontier University, 1869-1919. Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1969.
The Cornhusker, 1932. Tribute by S. Avery.