Faculty, Charles Bessey

Charles E. Bessey portrait

Charles Bessey came to the University of Nebraska in 1884 as a professor of botany and the dean of the industrial college.  Previous to his acceptance of the offer to teach at Nebraska, Bessey taught at Iowa State University where he began his empire of botanical research.  Bessey initially turned down the University of Nebraska's offer of professorship because he did not want to work at a university where he would have to start anew with his research.  However, when Bessey was offered both a professorship and a deanship at the Univesity of Nebraska, he accepted and aimed to build the entire botany department at Nebraska and shape it into what he wanted (Buescher). 

After arriving at Nebraska, Bessey focused much of his time in the study of Nebraska's plentiful grasses and plants to motivate the university's study of botany, which was virtually non-existent before his deanship.  Bessey was revered in the scientific community almost as much as he was in the classroom.  Bessey taught with a "captivating magnetism" that "won the admiration of thousands of students" (Pool).  Bessey held various titles throughout his career at the University of Nebraska: dean of literature, science, head dean, and interim chancellor twice.  Though Bessey resigned in 1909, his legacy is very apparent today.  There are various awards in his name, many of which honor the creativity and enthusiasm Bessey had for teaching.  Bessey Hall was built in 1916, one year after Bessey's death, and houses the department of geosciences, which Bessey worked so diligently to create (Buescher).


For a more in depth analysis of Charles Bessey view Nebraska U - Charles E. Bessey: The Man Behind the Building.