Each autumn, Nebraska schools, colleges, and universities schedule “homecoming,” a chance
for alumni to return and remember old times. In the fall of 1929, the University of
Nebraska’s first graduating class–the class of ’73–gathered to reminisce.
The reunion was a great success. Attendance was 100%. The entire class of ’73–all two of
them–were present, alive and well fifty-eight years after their graduation.
“These two men were the first to receive degrees from the state University. They were Judge
James Stuart Dales, corporation secretary of the University, and Judge William H. Snell, an
attorney of Tacoma, Washington.
“University authorities believe that probably no other school in the United States of an equal
age can point to the complete roll of their first class as living. Moreover, it is the only class
in the history of the University which has not suffered the death of a member.
“Fifty-eight years ago, the University of Nebraska opened its doors for instructional purposes.
Among the twenty students of college rank in attendance the first year were the two men
who made up the first graduating class. Both of them had taken some college work
elsewhere but completed their work at Nebraska.
“The first class graduated from the University in 1873, the second in 1874, and the third in
1876. At the graduation exercises held in 1876, both members of the class of 1873 were
given the degree Master of Philosophy. Their first degrees had been that of Bachelor of
“Judge Dales is the oldest employee of the University of Nebraska in point of years of
service, becoming officially connected with the institution in 1876 as secretary of the board
of regents. He is still active in this work.
“Following graduation from the University Judge Snell studied law in Lincoln for a time.
Afterwards he went to Fairbury and engaged in legal practice there until 1888, serving two
terms in the state senate. In l888 he moved to Washington. He served as district judge for
eight years in the western state.”