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Edgar Albert Burnett | 1930

University of Nebraska Dean and Chancellor who was also involved in the American Educational Corps teaching agriculture.

1865-1941 | Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936)

Impact & Accomplishments

Born in Hartland, Michigan, Edgar Burnett received a bachelor’s degree in 1887 from Michigan State Agricultural College and served as an assistant to the faculty there, before becoming professor of animal husbandry at (South) Dakota Agricultural College. There, he implemented the agricultural experiment station and conducted swine research.

In 1899, he left for the University of Nebraska, becoming Associate Dean of Agriculture and director of the experiment station in 1901. Burnett expanded the agricultural curriculum and the state’s experiment stations. He was appointed Dean of Agriculture in 1909. He was bestowed an honorary doctorate by his alma mater in 1917.

Dean Burnett spent two years in the American Education Corps, planning agricultural lectures in France, and in 1925, he was named president of the American Association of Land-Grant Colleges.

During the final decade of his career, Edgar A. Burnett was Chancellor of the University of Nebraska, retiring in 1938. Robert Grafton was the artist of record for the original Burnett portrait as well as the post-fire replacement, made a few years later.

Did You Know?

In 1967, the University of Nebraska Foundation created a program to recognize donors who, through their consistent giving to the University of Nebraska, raise the stature of the institution. These donors are members of the foundation’s Giving Society. The Burnett Society specifically recognizes members of this group who support the university through a planned gift. The group takes its name from Edgar A. Burnett, a chancellor at the University of Nebraska during the Great Depression, who recognized the university would not succeed on state funding alone. Burnett called on 30 business and civic leaders, and together they created the University of Nebraska Foundation to raise private funds for the university. The foundation received its first bequest in 1937 from a former faculty member; the second came in 1938 from an alumnus and 40-year employee of the library.

Burnett Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus was named in Burnett's honor.

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