Welcome to Love Academically, a Nebraska Today series that snuggles up with the stories of Husker couples: how they met, how they wound up at Nebraska U, how they balance relationships with careers or studies at the university. Because love may be patient, kind and blind, but at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, it’s also academic.
Like many love stories, Jim Benes and Tim Turnquist’s started on campus.
After being introduced through a mutual friend in late 2007, the pair officially became a couple early the next year. At the time, both were pursuing their undergraduate degrees at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln — with Benes majoring in geography and minoring in geology, and Turnquist studying history and Spanish.
The two shared lunch dates in Selleck, read together on the green space and memorized their course schedules so they could connect between classes.
“Every minute, we were always trying to find each other on campus,” Benes said.
Because Benes didn’t have a cell phone, the pair devised a new way of finding each other on campus. Rather than meeting at a simple spot like the Nebraska Union or one of the academic halls, one person would send a call number at Love Library to the other via email or a payphone call. Then, at their predetermined time, the two would separately search for the book until they found each other among the stacks.
“I was such a sappy romantic, so of course … I always picked books like ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ or, you know, romantic books,” Benes said.
The pair have been through a lot together since they started dating in 2008. They’ve each earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. On the personal front, they’ve shared a proposal in Tel Aviv, a wedding in Yellowstone and the introduction of the newest member of their crew — their pup, Rudiger.
In recent months, they’ve been spending their days working from home together — Benes as a global exchange coordinator for the College of Education and Human Sciences and part-time doctoral student in geography, Turnquist as a full-time doctoral student in history — and preparing to expand their family via adoption.
Through all the academic adventures, travels and life changes, Benes and Turnquist have always had each other.
“It’s so much fun having someone who’s on the same journey as you,” Turnquist said.
Though a lot has changed in the past 13 years, campus has been a constant in their lives. It’s where they spent the early years of their relationship. It’s where they returned to pursue doctorates and new jobs. Even simple things, like meeting for lunch in the dining hall, bring back old memories.
“Even just going to Selleck, it was like, ‘I remember when we first were dating,’” Turnquist said. “Just a big sense of this history and continuity and nostalgia … but you get to kind of live it every day.”
Whether they’re walking to work, a lecture hall or a meetup for lunch, they can relive their relationship as they pass by the familiar buildings and green spaces.
“The landscape … kind of becomes infused with the love I have for him,” Benes said. “So when I see the cherry trees on campus blooming, or I see the magnolias, or when I stop to get a coffee in the union or the Academic Grind … I just think of Tim all the time on campus.”