UWA receives $3 million land gift in Bibb County

Published 1:03 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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The University of West Alabama Foundation has announced a major land gift from Bibb County resident William D. “Bill” Hubbard valued at more than $3 million for the development of a conservation and research program. The property amasses more than 2,000 acres of land along the Cahaba River in Bibb County, rich in resources that will create opportunities for generations of UWA students to come.

UWA recognized Hubbard at a luncheon with members of his family and friends on campus, offering a glimpse into the vision that Hubbard has shared with UWA for the property. At the luncheon, Hubbard announced his pledge to match up to $200k of funds raised over the next 24 months for projects related to the property and its research and education initiatives.

Located in Centreville, the property boasts some of the most pristine natural resources that researchers say they have experienced.

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UWA’s Cahaba Biodiversity Center is the name proposed for the property and the program that will develop through it. Hubbard began acquiring individual tracts of land in 2002, growing it to more than 2,000 acres through acquisitions.

He did build a home there, and a barn, and more, but Hubbard said that he soon realized the property had more far-reaching opportunities that could benefit generations of students to come. He began considering schools that may utilize the land and its resources in a way that would conserve it for posterity and serve as a teaching tool.

“I know that UWA will provide millions of teachable moments here,” Hubbard said. “Land utilization and biological conservation need not be exclusive of each other. I am confident that UWA will fulfill my dream and vision for the property.”

Hubbard’s vision for the property is outlined carefully, and the university intends to honor his vision to the fullest.

“This is a visionary gift that will benefit countless generations to come,” said Dr. Chris Thomason, vice president for institutional advancement at UWA. “We are grateful to Mr. Hubbard for his generosity, his vision, and his commitment to our students and the opportunities they deserve.”

UWA President Ken Tucker echoed the remarks of gratitude and vision.

“We are excited to receive this potentially transformative donation, and are very grateful to Mr. Hubbard for his vision and generosity,” Tucker said. “The primary purpose and use of the property will be for education and conservation. The opportunities for hands-on experience in biology, conservation, and environmental sciences on the Hubbard property will be invaluable in the continuing development of our undergraduate degrees in Conservation and Field Biology and Environmental Sciences, and our new Master of Science in Conservation Biology.”

The water-side property overlooks the resource-rich Cahaba River, and in its banks are countless native species of flora and fauna, many that likely remain undiscovered still. Its center is seven miles downstream from the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge.

Research activities for UWA faculty and students will focus primarily on botanical and zoological biodiversity, ecology, archaeology, water quality, and conservation land management. Additional options on the table include utilizing the property in other new curricula such as outdoor enterprises and forestry technology.

UWA will manage the facility for researchers at other institutions who participate in similar research endeavors. Likewise, UWA will coordinate with regional K-12 schools for field trips and visits to offer exposure to research and resources for young students.

To learn more about plans for UWA’s Cahaba Biodiversity Center, contact Dr. Brian Keener at bkeener@uwa.eduor call 205-652-3796. For more information on ways to support the UWA, contact Dr. Chris Thomason at 205-652-3898.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, August 14 issue of the Demopolis Times.)