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Edgar A. Burnett

Chancellor; Dean of Agriculture; Director, Agricultural Experiment Station

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Burnett Hall

Edgar A Burnett (1865-1941) served the University of Nebraska from 1899 until he retired in 1938. His years at the University were marked by some of its best and worst times.

Burnett arrived in Lincoln in 1899 as the newly appointed director of Animal Husbandry at the University farm. He worked closely with Charles Bessey, and soon became the Associate Dean of the Industrial College under Bessey's leadership. He also took over as Director of the Experiment Station, further increasing his ties to the farm campus. When the Industrial College was dismantled in 1908, Burnett became the Dean of Agriculture. From 1904 until he assumed the role of Chancellor in 1927, he oversaw agricultural education and the work of the Experiment Station from his office in Agriculture Hall.

In 1927 Burnett was named acting Chancellor following the announcement that Samuel Avery was stepping down. A year later he was made permanent, although support for Burnett was never strong. Burnett had been highly successful at building up the agricultural programs of the University, increasing enrollment and buildings at the farm. His contacts with farmers throughout the state were extensive. His work as Chancellor proved to be more difficult, and was plagued by economic hardship. Never popular with the faculty, who saw him as practical but uninspiring, Burnett spent his years as Chancellor lobbying the legislature for very limited funds. He was able to secure funding for the first Women's Dormitories before the Great Depression decended and brought nearly all building to a stand still.

E. A. Burnett remained Chancellor until 1938. At 73, he was more than ready for retirement. He died in 1941. Burnett Hall was named for the Chancellor when it was constructed in 1946, a suitable honor for the man who endeavored to see it constructed.

Source Information:
Prairie University, by Robt Knoll. U of N press, 1995.
Board of Regents minutes, 1946.
College of Agriculture of the University of Nebraska:the First Century, by E Frolik, R. Graham, UNL, 1987.