Dahlgren campus leader driven to keep learning
Michael Hubbard has proven an inspirational figure since taking leadership of the University of Mary Washington’s Dahlgren Center for Education and Research in 2019. A retired Marine, he’s an envoy between UMW and regional constituents who use the 42,000-square-foot, technologically sophisticated building for classes, conferencing and events.
A primary goal of the Dahlgren Campus is to foster innovation and technological education at all levels in King George and Caroline counties and Virginia’s Northern Neck. To this end, Hubbard has built relationships with experts at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD); elected officials; education and business leaders; and community stakeholders.
But there’s another side to Hubbard, one that sets an example of lifelong learning and also meshes with UMW’s broader liberal arts and sciences mission. Hubbard recently completed his doctorate in education with a focus on learning and organizational change from Baylor University.
His dissertation, “Mission Critical: A Qualitative Study on Improving Graduation Success for First-Generation, Black Students at Public Universities,” focuses on not just recruiting minority students but creating the immersive experiences and sense of belonging to get them to graduation.
Focus groups and interviews led to three important findings, according to his dissertation abstract. “The first finding is that the students did not feel understood by university faculty or staff, therefore they did not feel like they belonged. Next, students expressed a need for support systems throughout their post-secondary education journey. Finally, campus culture must align with the needs of the students to prevent cultural dissonance.”
Hubbard’s research topic draws from his own experience. As a first-generation college student, he left one semester shy of graduation to enlist in the Marine Corps, a decision that perplexed his parents even though several of his relatives had military careers. While in the Marines he completed his last few electives to earn his undergraduate degree from Ferrum College.
The Marines showed him the world as he rose to sergeant and then was selected for commissioning. As an officer, his career included leadership in combat campaigns in Africa, Asia and southeastern Europe, and non-combat assignments including a yearlong fellowship with the national Chamber of Commerce. Along the way he earned master’s degrees in management from Marymount University and strategic security studies from the National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs.
“All of those experiences helped remind me of this: To whom much has been given, much is expected, and part of my mission is to give back,” Hubbard said.
“Dr. Hubbard plays a pivotal role at the University, leading up our efforts at the Dahlgren Campus to provide high quality educational programs to those on the base at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, as well as to those in the larger King George County community – an important regional partner to our east,” Provost Tim O’Donnell said.
“His leadership is crucial to some of the University’s most important strategic initiatives, including forging key partnerships with the private and public sectors. These partnerships are critical to UMW and the region, and I am so grateful for his continued dedication and commitment. His enthusiasm for giving back, helping others, and lifelong learning is infectious and serves as inspiration to us all.”