Iowa lawyer, Tulane grad gives school $3M for new department
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An Iowa attorney and Tulane University alumna has given $3 million to one of the newest departments at the private university in New Orleans.
“I want to do something for Tulane/Newcomb in appreciation of the excellent education I received there. The Department of River-Coastal Science and Engineering fits with my interests,” Charlotte Beyer Hubbell of Des Moines said in a university news release Tuesday.
She said those interests involve “the concerns I have for the future of New Orleans, namely coastal erosion, rising sea levels, a changing climate, floods and other severe weather impacts. I hope the department can communicate the urgency of these issues to decision-makers and engage the local community to participate in possible solutions.”
She gave $2 million to endow a chair and $1 million for an excellence fund.
“As we are presently in the critical phase of building out the faculty and degree programs in the department, the timing of this multi-faceted gift is ideal,” said Mead Allison, professor and chair of the new department. She said the department goal is to be “a world leader in the science of understanding how climate change and human activities are affecting rivers, deltas and coastlines, and how green engineering solutions can be devised to make our coastal cities and ecosystems more resilient in the 21st century.”
The endowment will pay salary and other expenses directly associated with the chairholder’s academic work, research, travel, hiring postdoctoral students or supporting graduate students.
Half of the non-endowed fund will pay for equipment, student-linked conference attendance and travel for research. The rest will expand and support a network of experimental stations along the lower Mississippi River and its main tributaries. They will collect data about nutrients that fuel coastal hypoxia and seafood health, suspended sediment loads important to large river diversions planned by the state to build and restore wetlands, and other data key to ecosystem health and sustainability.
Tulane will buy and install the equipment and set up a website where students and the public can use the data, according to the news release.
Tulane also will create an annual lecture series about river and coastal issues.
Hubbell earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Newcomb College in 1971 and her law degree in 1976 from the University of Iowa. She served a four-year term on Iowa’s State Environmental Protection Commission, including two years as chair. She is currently a member of the Environmental Law and Policy Center’s advisory board in Chicago and serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for Tulane’s School of Liberal Arts.
Her husband, Democratic businessman and philanthropist Fred Hubbell, narrowly lost the 2018 race for governor of Iowa.