Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Helena Rodriguez
PORTALES — Portales resident Kenneth Hubbard was just 20 hours shy of completing a bachelor's degree in business administration at Eastern New Mexico Junior College in 1942 when he enlisted in the Army to fight in World War II.
Hubbard always regretted not completing that degree at what is now known as Eastern New Mexico University, but that has not stopped him from being a supporter of ENMU over the years through the Friend of Eastern Foundation. Now, Hubbard feels like Eastern is returning the favor to him. In December, Eastern will present him with its first-ever honorary degree during the fall commencement ceremonies.
Portales attorney Stephen Doerr nominated Hubbard for the honorary degree. To be considered for an honorary degree from Eastern, an individual must still be living and must have served in World War II or the Korean War. Furthermore, individuals must have attended Eastern in good standing at the time of their enlistment and must have been within 30 semester hours of completing degree requirements. All requests to award honorary degrees must be submitted in writing.
"This degree thing just came out of the blue. I feel like the time I put in at Eastern was not wasted,'" said the 83-year-old Hubbard, who owned The Modern Shoe Store in Portales. He combined the shoe store with the old Turner's Department Store in 1980 and then retired in 1990. "I always regretted never completing my degree. My years at Eastern meant a lot to my life."
It seemed as though Hubbard was destined to get a degree from Eastern one way or another. His wife, Marguerite, graduated from ENMU with a degree in education and was a longtime school teacher in Portales. When his sister-in-law, Doris Wood, graduated from Eastern in 1946, the diploma that she was handed had his name on it.
Hubbard came to Portales in 1938 from Festus, Mo., specifically to get a college education. During his days at Eastern, Hubbard was an active young man. He started out as a journalism major and worked at the student newspaper, The Chase, and also served as manager of the Silver Pack yearbook. He ran for the office of student body president but was defeated. He was also active with an honorary service club at the time called Cacqie. Later, he changed his major to business.
Although Hubbard did not have a business degree in hand after leaving Eastern, he said the business education he received at Eastern helped him when he started his business after he returned from serving in North Africa and southern France.
He has been a member of Friends of Eastern since it was started. He's also been active with The Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce since the 1950s and with First Baptist Church in Portales.
"My priorities have always been God first, my family second and third, my community, and my philosophy of life has kind of been to pay back those who have helped me when I was growing up," Hubbard said.
A past president of the ENMU Ex-Student Association, Hubbard has been active in numerous other community organizations over the years. He and his wife were married in 1940 and have a daughter, Carol Iverson, who attended Eastern for three years. They also have five grandchildren.
Doerr, who is president of the Friends of Eastern Foundation, said he was shocked to find out Hubbard had never completed his bachelor's degree at Eastern. "I honestly thought Ken was a graduate of Eastern, the way he was always talking it up," Doerr said. "But then his good friend, Dewey Langston, told me he had not graduated, and when I found out why, I thought Eastern ought to give him an honorary degree."
Hubbard will receive his honorary degree from Eastern during the Dec. 18 fall commencement at Greyhound Arena.
Ken Hubbard (photo by Helena Rodriguez)