Today in NC State History: First dean of student affairs named

May 28, 2014
By Chris Saunders

historyIconUp until the mid-1950s, the dean of students was a position mostly concerned with doling out discipline and delving into student attendance.

But there emerged a clear need for the position to foster other areas of student life, such as attracting performers to campus, that went beyond strictly academic life. So on this day in 1954, NC State’s director of student housing, James J. Stewart, was given a promotion and was named the college’s first dean of student affairs.

James J. Steward. Photo courtesy of Special Collections, NCSU Libraries.

James J. Stewart. Photo courtesy of Special Collections, NCSU Libraries.

Stewart made an immediate impact, according to Alice Elizabeth Reagan’s North Carolina State University: A Narrative History. She cites that he upgraded the college’s musical department as one of his first acts. And he helped breathe new life into the ROTC program by placing it under a new leader and getting new uniforms. “[U]nder Stewart’s direction, all aspects of college’s non-academic programs became better coordinated and planned,” Reagan writes.

In 1966, Stewart gained a great deal of respect among the students by siding with them in their fight to secure better food service and choices. He served as dean of student affairs until 1969. Today, Stewart Theatre bears his name.



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