Hubbell family donates $1.75 million to new student center

by Emily Schettler, Staff Writer

The student center fundraising committee got a lot closer to meeting its goal this month, thanks to a generous donation by Frederick and Charlotte Hubbell and James Jr. and Helen Hubbell. The long time Simpson supporters recently donated $1.75 million to the project.

“The Hubbell’s understand the importance in providing for students,” Bob Lane, vice president for college advancement, said.

Although no members of the Hubbell family actually attended Simpson, the Hubbell’s have a long relationship with the school. James Hubbell Jr. served on the Board of Trustees for 32 years. His son, Frederick Hubbell, has been a member since 1984. He was recently appointed chairman of the board in 2007.

Junior Kyle Liske, student senate president believes the donation comes at a good time, especially with rising concerns from students about the financing of the project.

“I think the student opinion is a growing skepticism,” Liske said. “I hope this helps alleviate some of that skepticism and helps the morale of students [regarding the project].”

Lane said the Hubbell’s donation proves the importance of having a new student center.

“This commitment is another example of how important this project is,” Lane said. “There are so many positive things. We are anxious to see it happen.”

The new student center is the most expensive construction undertaking in Simpson history. The facility is estimated to cost $21 million.

According Lane, $9 million in gifts and pledges have been raised. The Hubbell’s donation is the largest donation by an individual donor thus far to the project. Lane hopes it will encourage others to donate as well.

“Hubbell knew that as a member of the Board of Trustees, it was important he provide leadership with financial support,” Lane said. “He wants to demonstrate it is a worthy project.”

For alumn like Tonya Thomas, who graduated in 2007, the donation is also encouraging. Thomas was among the students who, in 2005, voted to increase student activity fees by $100 per year to help pay for the student center. Now she’s seeing others contribute to the project as well.

“I don’t really remember any negative feedback at the time the project was introduced,” Thomas said. “If there’s uncertainty now, hopefully this will put it to rest.”

Lane said he, as well as the entire college, is grateful for all the Hubbell family has done for Simpson.

“We are really honored,” Lane said. “They are not alumni, but they believe in Simpson and this kind of education.”

Jim Hubbell began working with Simpson in the 70s.

“Under the leadership of Hubbell, other trustees and [President] McBride, the college prospered and was made possible to be what it is today,” Lane said.

Frederick Hubbell is a retired Chief Executive Officer for ING Group and Equitable of Iowa Companies. He worked in the Netherlands before returning to Des Moines.

Lane said the family has been involved with many philanthropic interests outside of Simpson, including United Way and the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

“They are a charity-inclined family,” Lane said. “They take pride in this legacy that has been handed down.”

The donation has been restricted to the student center, but has not been dedicated to a certain project. Something in the facility will be named in honor of the Hubbell family.

Lane plans to continue to raise money as quickly as possible. He said he is grateful and humbled by the Hubbell’s gift.

Liske agreed, noting the ongoing commitment that the Hubbell family has to the school.

“It’s not just in this one gift, but throughout the history of the institution,” Liske said. “They are very generous and Simpson would not be the same without them and their generosity.”