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Las Cruces icon Barbara Hubbard receives NMSU Presidential Medallion

Barbara Hubbard has received many impressive awards from the music and entertainment industry for her work as a concert promoter. But the one that is closest to her heart was presented to her recently by those she has served for nearly half a century.


Smiling woman with medallion on
Barbara Hubbard, retired special events director, proudly wears the Presidential Medallion that was presented to her by New Mexico State University on Jan. 17. (NMSU photo by Andres Leighton)
Woman with 88 jersey
Barbara Hubbard is the executive director of American Collegiate Talent Showcase, a nonprofit organization that raises money for scholarships for students pursuing a career in the performing arts, whether on-stage or behind-the-scenes. (Photo by Darren Phillips)

“Mother Hubbard,” as she is affectionately called, received New Mexico State University’s Presidential Medallion during the university’s spring semester convocation on Jan. 17. She is the third recipient of this honor that was established in 2015 to recognize retired NMSU faculty and staff, state officials and community members.

“There are two icons in Las Cruces,” said NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers during the Jan. 17 presentations. “One is (former NMSU basketball coach) Lou Henson and the other is Barbara Hubbard.”

Henson and Hubbard share a long history of service to the university, beginning in 1968 when Henson hired Hubbard as the first woman business manager of the athletic department.

“While the national awards I’ve received in recent years mean a lot to me because they are from my professional peers, the Presidential Medallion means more to me because it’s from the educational field,” said Hubbard, a former physical education teacher at Las Cruces’ Mayfield High School and NMSU. “After all, I’m an educator, first and foremost.”

Unlike the Mother Goose fairytale Mother Hubbard, who had so many children she didn’t know what to do, the retired special events director at NMSU’s Pan American Center has known exactly what to do for students.

Through the American Collegiate Talent Showcase, a nonprofit organization, of which Hubbard is the executive director, she has raised money for scholarships for students pursuing a career in the performing arts, whether on-stage or behind-the-scenes.

“I’m proud of what the students have gotten to do with the ACTS program,” she said. “It’s all because we love the entertainment business and we love the students who are trying to get in it.”

With the ACTS profits, Hubbard has created scholarship endowments, including the Barbara and Peirce Hubbard Scholarship Endowment, through the NMSU Foundation, honoring friends, family and industry entertainers.

“We’ve just completed endowments for two more scholarships, which brings the count to 18,” the 89-year-old concert promoter said. “We just named an endowment in honor of Irving Azoff, The Eagles rock band manager, in memory of Glenn Frey, founding member of the band.”

The latest endowment is in country singer Keith Urban’s name.

The path to becoming a promoter of students’ dreams began when Henson hired Hubbard in 1968 as the university’s newly completed arena, the Pan American Center, was opening its doors.

“I had two goals, one to have the Pan Am Center bring in revenue for the university and the other was to give students jobs,” she said. “Many of the students were having to hold down two jobs while going to school. I decided we needed to create jobs on campus so they only had to work at one.”

Because of the seating capacity of the arena, Hubbard saw an opportunity for music fans in the Las Cruces area to experience first-rate shows.

“Barbara has left a rich and wonderful legacy,” Carruthers said. “For decades she was instrumental, and still is, in attracting big name entertainers to New Mexico State.”

Over the years Hubbard has brought some of music’s biggest names through the Pan Am Center. The list began with Charlie Pride and Ike and Tina Turner Revue and includes Whitney Houston, Garth Brooks, Pearl Jam, The Eagles, Neil Diamond, U2, KISS, George Strait, Reba McEntire and, even, Bob Hope, who gave her the nickname Mother Hubbard.

“I couldn’t have done it without the students’ help,” she said. “I’ve been fortunate to have some great, great young people working with me.”

Her appreciation of those she has worked with extends out to the entertainment profession and has been returned in recent years with national recognition.

“She’s so well-known in the music business, and has been that way for decades,” said Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of the concert tour industry weekly trade magazine “Pollstar,” when presenting her the magazine’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. “She has such an overwhelming positive reputation. People in the industry have grown up with Barbara.”

The music and entertainment industry has also honored her with Billboard magazine’s Golden Circle Award, Venue Today magazine’s first Women of Influence Award, and the Harry Peebles Founder’s Award by the International Entertainment Buyers Association.

As Hubbard places the Presidential Medallion next to her national awards, her heart is filled with love and appreciation.

“God has blessed me with a wonderful life,” she said. “I have a couple more projects involving New Mexico State to complete in my lifetime, God willing.”