UNL graduate shows his love for Love
Texas man says he owes so much of his success in life to the library, and to hitting the books.
Posted: Tue, Apr 1, 2014
One day decades ago, a know-it-all sophomore sent a letter to his UNL dean, telling him exactly what he thought of the university.
How much he hated it.
How the professors "didn't know beans."
The dean asked to meet with him. So the young man sat down in front of him and repeated what he'd said in the letter.
The dean took notes.
That was 1951, right before the young man dropped out. He joined the Navy. Four years later, after marrying a good gal and starting a family and getting in with a group of guys on a Navy ship – guys who talked about returning to school – the young man started to see things differently.
He loved the thought of returning. And learning. He realized he was the one who didn't know beans.
He returned to the dean's office.
"I said, ‘I'd like to go to school here again.'"
Chuck Bukin chuckles as he tells this story over the phone from his Texas home.
"The dean said, ‘Wait just a minute.' He pulled out a file and folder on me. He says, ‘You sure?'"
One of the best lessons he's learned in life, Chuck says, is the importance of education.
He says he owes so much of his good life to his college degree.
After the dean let him back in, he studied much harder than he had before. He studied while working his way through school doing manual labor jobs, like driving trucks and unloading trains. He studied chemistry and geology and brought up his grades and graduated in 1960. He later earned a master's of liberal arts degree from Southern Methodist University.
Most of his career after college happened in Texas, where he worked for Texas Instruments as a process engineer. He made transistors and then computer chips. He's retired now.
"I'm a Texan," he says. "But I'm really a Nebraskan. I really do miss Nebraska."
He says there's a plaque on the wall of his office at home that makes him think of Nebraska. The plaque says he's a member of the Chancellor's Club for giving so much over the years to the university.
The plaque shows a photo of Love Library. Most of his giving has been to help Love Library. After he returned to UNL, he says, the library became one of his favorite spots on campus.
"There was a group of us that met in the library in Study Hall. We were the Young Democrats. We would sit around and get in discussions about Nebraska being Republican and how they ought to switch to Democrats (I'm a Republican now).
"I lived off campus and I worked, and so the library was a place where I could go to study. And it was warm. We had a place at a table where we'd meet, down on the first floor.
"Once in a while we'd get carried away and they'd tell us to quiet down."
He started out by giving a little bit of money to help Love Library to make the transition to computers. It wasn't much. Just what he could afford at the time.
He kept giving. Over the years, a little became a lot. He was among the first members of the UNL Libraries Dean's Club.
When the library needed money to digitize its books, Chuck gave to that effort. He was among the first to give to the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities Excellence Fund.
"The thing about that library is that the books are not just in a vault now," he says. "They can be digitized and people can read them and see them anywhere in the world, and that's what's neat.
"Love Library is on R Street, but now it's also global."
He's proud of the plaque, with the photo of Love. He's proud he's given back.
He's proud he came back.
If you, like Chuck Bukin, also have great memories of Love or the other UNL libraries, please consider giving online to the UNL Library Fund or to the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities Excellence Fund or contact the foundation's Susan Norby at 800-432-3216.