In the Fall of 2003 — not long after retiring from her 28-year career as a mathematics professor at Kennesaw State University — Elaine M. Hubbard, MATH 1972, MS MATH 1974, Ph.D. MATH 1980, felt compelled to take action that would have a lasting impact on her alma mater.
That September, Hubbard signed an endowment agreement whose income would one day establish the Elaine M. Hubbard Endowed Chair in the School of Mathematics — the School’s first endowed faculty chair.
By establishing an endowment fund through her Will, Hubbard knew she would never meet any of the distinguished academics who would ultimately hold the Hubbard Chair. She did know, however, that her estate gift would one day play a vital role in developing and strengthening Georgia Tech’s mathematics faculty, which had long ago helped lay the foundation for her own success as a scholar and teacher.
Following the Board of Regents’ approval of the Hubbard Chair earlier this year, the School of Mathematics is now embarking on an international search to fill this pivotal position of academic leadership.
Paul Goldbart, former dean of the College of Sciences and Betsy and John Clark Sutherland Chair, spoke at Hubbard’s memorial service the day before Thanksgiving in 2016.
“At Georgia Tech, Elaine is and always will be admired as one of our pioneers and early role models,” Goldbart told those gathered to honor her memory. “Elaine was a highly successful student, encouraged by her father Glenn and mother Marjorie, at a time when women, especially in mathematics and even more especially at the graduate level, were extremely few in number.”
Goldbart also recalled Hubbard’s broad range of personal interests and her willingness to volunteer for leadership roles. “Of special significance was Elaine’s long-time membership on the College of Sciences Advisory Board,” Goldbart said. “This is a small group comprising some of our most accomplished graduates who provide ongoing guidance and counsel to the dean. It is through this affiliation that I came to know Dr. Hubbard and to develop great regard for her intellect, academic achievements, devotion to students, warm personality, good humor, and quiet but deep desire to make a difference.”
In addition to serving on the College of Sciences Advisory Board from 2008-2016, Hubbard was also active in the Georgia Tech Alumni Association and served on her 40th Reunion Committee in 2012.
Hubbard was also deeply committed to community service. Joseph S. James, IM 1978, a childhood neighbor and lifelong friend of Hubbard’s who is also serving as executor of her estate, characterizes her as a civic-minded person who worked to advance a number of important causes, especially voting, planning, and historical preservation.
“What I remember most about Elaine, though, is that she was always so kind,” James said. “We grew up as neighbors in Woodstock, Georgia. We were both only children, so we naturally wound up playing together a lot. I came to know and love her family, who were so kind and welcoming. Georgia Tech meant so much to her, and I want to make sure her legacy is passed on through her Tech connection.”
A mathematics professor at Kennesaw State University for more than two decades, Hubbard co-authored 13 mathematics textbooks. She was among the first to pilot the use of graphic calculators in teaching mathematics, and she earned national recognition for her groundbreaking use of technology in teaching.
“Elaine had a real passion for teaching,” said Nina Alexander, a close friend of Hubbard’s since high school. “She was always eager to help students who maybe didn’t have the same aptitude or interest in math that she had. She was always compassionate toward those who cared about doing well and tried their best.”
Alexander said she hopes that Georgia Tech’s mathematics faculty and students will learn of and be inspired by Hubbard’s passion for teaching, as well as her spirit of community service and volunteerism.
The School of Mathematics is one of the original academic departments at Georgia Tech, dating back to 1888. The School continues to be a cornerstone of the Institute, and today boasts a vibrant community of faculty who conduct the highest caliber of mathematical research and teaching.
“Endowed faculty chairs are a crucial element of our long-term vitality,” said Rachel Kuske, chair of the School of Mathematics. “Endowed chair holders draw talented students to our program, attract junior and senior faculty, stimulate innovative research, and leverage external funding. The philanthropic intent that Elaine Hubbard set in motion 15 years ago is truly visionary, and her legacy will endure. We hope the Elaine M. Hubbard Chair will be the first of many endowed faculty chairs that will serve to support robust, leading-edge mathematics education and research at Georgia Tech.”