“Loafing!” is Gren Yuill’s primary objective when he officially retires this summer from The Durham School’s Architectural Engineering program, but his already extensive list of plans proves a different story.
Yuill joined the College of Engineering in 1998 to start up the Architectural Engineering program in Omaha. He spent eight years in the AE program at Penn State University and modeled Nebraska’s new program from his experiences there and as an independent industry consultant.
“I arrived in January and in August we had our first 23 students in the program," he recalled. By 2002, he had hired 10 faculty and by 2008, enrollment had grown to 230 undergraduate and 70 graduate students. The program is highly regarded within the engineering industry nationally.
Yuill left his position as director of the AE program in 2004 and was soon appointed director of The Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction. In 2009, he went back to teaching full-time, but said he enjoyed the challenges of leading this distinctive program.
As a professor, Yuill will miss teaching his “favorite class,” thermodynamics, which he has taught since 1961. He wryly points out that he perhaps has “a different style than most teachers—lots of testing.”
“It’s kind of a shock to students when they first have my classes, but they get used to the frequent testing and it helps them start studying from the very beginning, rather than trying to cram in information later.
“Those familiar with Yuill are enthralled by the flip side of his life as a professional Canadian “outfitter” and avid hunter. Without full-time teaching duties, Yuill now can turn even more attention to his primary hobby and has tentative hunting trips already planned for Africa and the extreme wilds of Canada. He and his brother have hunted moose “way out in the wilderness” in Canada every year for 35 years, and his stories of dragging 1,200-pound carcasses through the rugged country are legendary.
Ah, but hunting is just one of his future plans. Yuill is considering teaching overseas part-time in the Middle East—“perhaps just a course or so.” He and his wife, Patricia Draper (professor of anthropology at UNL who is also retiring this year), have decided to move to New Mexico as soon as they sell their house in Lincoln.
An avid reader, Yuill balances a “60 to 40 percent mix of fiction to non-fiction,” and is currently on a 19th century kick, rereading many of the classics on his Kindle from such authors as George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell and Anthony Trollope.
Looking back, Yuill summarized his experiences succinctly. “I was glad to come to UNL and start something special with the AE program,” he said. “I’m proud of the contributions I made and feel it’s a good time to move on.”