Born in Kincardine, Ontario, Canada on January 21, 1872, George Sellery received a B.A from the University of Toronto in 1897 and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1901. He joined the University of Wisconsin in 1901 as an instructor in History. He became a full Professor in 1909. He served as the Director of the summer term from 1906-1911, as the Dean of the College of Letters and Science from 1919 to his retirement in 1942, and was Acting President for a short period in 1937. He received an Honorary L.L.D. from the University of Colorado in 1921 and one from the University of Toronto in 1927.
At Wisconsin his services were marked by scholarship, rigorous but interesting teaching, and administrative activity. His publications bear witness to the first, his grateful students to the second, and the very structure of the University to the third. At no time before retirement did any of these functions cease, and the first continued throughout his life.
On his retirement a colleague wrote: "Dean Sellery has been a pillar of strength in the fight to give students at the University of Wisconsin a broad cultural education. He has been a firm believer in liberal education as a preparation for life. He has supported high standards in teaching and in scholarship. He has given without stint of all there is in him to the University of Wisconsin. Throughout the long period of his service, his first thought has been the welfare of the University, the service which the University could give to the State, the hope that the University of Wisconsin should always be maintained as one of the leading universities of the world."