Marsha Yeagley, senior lecturer in Marketing & MIS, 308.865.8345
Dr. Tim Burkink, College of Business and Technology dean, 308.865.8342

Dennis Nelson of Kearney has been named the 2012 CBT Distinguished Alumnus at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Nelson, president and CEO of the Kearney-based apparel company The Buckle, received the award during the UNK College of Business and Technology (CBT) Honors Night earlier this month. In addition to being recognized as a CBT Distinguished Alumnus, he also gave the Honors Night address. A 1973 graduate of the UNK business administration program, Nelson is the first to receive the award.

“Many graduates of the program have become highly successful in a variety of productive careers throughout the United States and abroad,” said Dr. Tim Burkink, CBT dean. The business administration program was first offered on the KSC/UNK campus in 1963.

Nelson began working part-time as a salesman at what was then known as the Brass Buckle in 1970 while a student at Kearney State College/UNK. After graduating in 1973, he became a full-time employee of the company.

“Dennis was instrumental in the decision to expand The Buckle beyond its initial location in Kearney,” Dr. Burkink said. Since that time, the company has grown to more than 433 stores in 43 states.

The Buckle has its roots in Mills Clothing, a men’s clothing store founded by David Hirschfeld. His son Dan took over the operations in 1965, and in 1967, a second store was purchased and operated under the name “Brass Buckle.” By the early 1970s, the store had become known for its casual clothing for men, and in 1977, the store expanded into the women’s casual clothing market. In 1991, Brass Buckle changed its name to The Buckle, and in 1992, the company went public on the NASDAQ. Today, the company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol, BKE.

“From salesman to CEO, Dennis helped shape Buckle into a strong and growing retail brand. As the company continues to expand into new markets, his vision, integrity and passion for the business remain central to the company’s success,” Dr. Burkink said.