When Gladys Woodward Hubbard graduated from Sweet Briar in 1924, she couldn’t possibly have imagined the profound impact the College would have on her son nearly a century later. Since 2007, Leverett Hubbard Jr. has made several substantial gifts to Sweet Briar in his mother’s honor — most recently donating $500,000 to restore and maintain the Chaplain’s House.
The building, constructed in 1937, later housed the College chaplain and became known by that name until it was christened the “Hubbard House” at a special ceremony during Homecoming in October.
Hubbard, a World War II veteran and former teacher, says Sweet Briar has been a part of his life throughout the years — from the memories his mother shared, to his own experiences dating Sweet Briar women while he was a law student at the University of Virginia, to several of his Yale classmates’ marrying Sweet Briar graduates, Hubbard and Sweet Briar crossed paths many times. All of those circumstances presented a pretty strong argument for supporting the College, he says.
“Once I was retired, I had the funds to do that,” said Hubbard, who now lives with his wife Catee in a condominium community in New Hampshire.
Six years ago, Hubbard established the Gladys Woodward Hubbard ’24 Memorial Scholarship — a restricted scholarship with $12,500 awarded annually to a student from Connecticut, Massachusetts or New Hampshire. The first recipient entered Sweet Briar this fall as a member of the Class of 2017.
Hubbard recently endowed the memorial scholarship fund with an additional deferred gift of $600,000, producing annual scholarship funds of $30,000.
But he wanted to do even more for Sweet Briar: Hubbard wanted to bequeath valuable family heirlooms and antiques.
Margie Lippard, director of major and planned giving, knew just the place: the Chaplain’s House. The heart and soul of Sweet Briar’s spiritual life, it had been home to several chaplains over the years, but was now in dire need of repair.
Hubbard agreed to donate $500,000 to restore and maintain it — combining current and deferred gifts, with $100,000 going toward the building’s renovation. Hubbard’s tangibles — including an antique silver service — will be stored, preserved and displayed in the house. A portrait of his mother, who died in 2000, will adorn the mantel in the main living room once renovations are completed.
The house will be open to students for spiritual activities and events hosted by Chaplain Dori Baker and the Sweet Spirits, a group of student spiritual leaders. Baker envisions special meals taking place at the house to celebrate different religious holidays, but also meetings, such as her grief support group and weekly Bible studies, as well as regular “bread bakes.”
“The house will be a center for exploring the connections between world religions, people’s daily practices, and ways students might both broaden and deepen their own spiritual paths,” she said.
In addition, the Hubbard House will serve as a refuge to students during times of stress.
“During exam weeks, I envision ‘sunset breaks’ in which Sweet Spirits host brief stress relief support sessions, inviting students to walk over and enjoy the sunset before returning to their studies,” Baker said.
Her plans sound good to Hubbard.
“I hope the chaplain’s program will continue to be as exciting and rewarding as it has been, and that students will go to the house to relax and feel comfortable,” he said.
There’s another reason Hubbard is excited.
“Now I’ve got something to come home to,” he said during the dedication, adding the back-porch view reminded him of the New Hampshire hills.