I am a husband to one, a father to two and a grandfather to two. Both my wife, Nancy, and I grew up in downstate Illinois. We met as undergraduates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I spent many days of my youth helping my maternal grandparents operate their small independent grocery store and playing baseball. Before heading back to graduate school, I worked for a dairy processing company and for a major grocery chain’s central bakery. My first teaching and research position was at Clemson University in South Carolina. I would be happy to show anyone interested my copy of “Twas the Night before The Orange Bowl – A commemoration of Clemson’s mighty win over the Cornhuskers of Nebraska sending the Tigers to National Championship fame” by Clair Gilliland that was signed by both Tom Osborne and Danny Ford.
What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I have the privilege of serving now as head of the Department of Food Science and Technology. Prior to my current role, I held appointments with the Department of Food Science and Technology and the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. Courses I taught included engineering properties of biological materials, heat and mass transfer, unit operations in food processing and food plant design for safety and sanitation.
What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I was drawn to its Midwest location, the importance of food and agriculture in Nebraska, my favorable impression of acquaintances at UNL and the opportunity to conduct research of great interest to me, sich as value-added processing of cereals and grains. The facts that my doctorate advisor had been from Minden and was a UNL graduate were probably also factors into making the move to Nebraska.
What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
I have always found comfort in the fact that the university environment is a place where one does not have to justify or make excuses for seeking understanding other than just for the sake of understanding, for expecting truth and integrity to be the norm and for searching for answers and solutions to benefit all of the inhabitants of Earth. The dynamics of campus with its vibrancy and constant ebb and flow, and the enthusiasm of the students keep me inspired.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having the benefit of knowing the majority of experiences of my life have already occurred, I consider my greatest achievement to be that of convincing my wife that I was worthy of being her companion in life. I shudder to think where I might be and what I might be doing if I had not met and come to know her. Beyond that, any credit attributed to me for aiding to raise the image of grain sorghum as a viable food product or ingredient in the United States or for the Cubs winning the 2016 World Series would be a wonderful achievement.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
Most people do not know that I almost came to Lincoln in the fall of 1982. I had applied for three-quarter time assistant instructor position in the UNL Department of Food Science and Technology that would have allowed me to work on a doctorate degree. However, before I was to travel to Lincoln for my interview, budget issues and a pending November special legislative session forced a hiring freeze and my trip was cancelled. I finally made it to Lincoln ten years later with a doctorate degree in hand and red dirt on my shoes.
What is your life like outside of work?
Nowadays away from my work, I spend time on DIY projects at home, watching team sports and doing a little genealogical research and documentation. I used to be more competitive by playing softball and basketball until chronic injuries slowed me down. My involvement with the sports of my sons has passed and I look forward to being a spectator at events for the grandchildren. Nancy and I travel to new warm places to fish, canoe and visit our mothers when possible.