Barto Hall Superman: Dale Hubbard

In his years at CWU, Hubbard has had an impact on students and community members alike.

In his years at CWU, Hubbard has had an impact on students and community members alike.

Xander Fu

Xander Fu

In his years at CWU, Hubbard has had an impact on students and community members alike.

Ryan Kinker, News Editor

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In the corner of the SURC along the front wall of 88.1 the ‘Burg’s office, trophies sit on a shelf and plaques fill the walls. These awards recognize the students and volunteers of years past and their commitment to college radio.


The longest plaque has a distinction at the top: DJ of the Year. Halfway down the award list, a name is etched in gold on one of the tiny, black boxes: “Dale Hubbard, 2005-2006 DJ of the Year.”


Hubbard was a recognizable voice at the ‘Burg for many years, and still has a presence and effect on the lives of CWU students.


Hubbard has worked for Custodial Services in academic buildings and residence halls for over 21 years, and he has worked in Barto Hall since its reopening in 2012. However, his connection to CWU goes deeper than that.


Hubbard’s family moved to Ellensburg in the mid-60s when he was a toddler and his mom worked at the university. The family moved to Tri-Cities before Hubbard’s senior year and he graduated from Kennewick High School in 1980.
“Back when Bouillon Hall was the library, my mom used to have an office in there,” Hubbard said. “My dad and my step-dad were students here as well.”


Hubbard then spent four years in the United States Coast Guard and married to his wife of 34 years, Stephanie. Their first date was at a dance in Sue Lombard Hall. He went to community college before he became a student at CWU himself in 1986.

“The Coast Guard was cool, but I only did it for college money,” Hubbard said. “I’m the only kid in my family to go to school here.”


Hubbard was involved in both music ensembles and student media during his days as a student and after graduating in 1989 with a bachelor’s in communications and music, he worked different jobs in the area before finding a position as a custodian in 1995 that he has stuck with ever since.


“Once you get into Custodial [Services], they want to keep you around,” Hubbard said.


Working in Barto Hall, Hubbard’s goal is to know the names of between 50 and 60 of the over 250 Barto residents by the end of each academic year. He always asks them three questions when he meets them.


“I always ask where you’re from, what you’re going to be when you grow up, which is a trick question because I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and how your day is going,” Hubbard said. “The students are awesome, and I love this building. The freshman are killer… When I get new hires that don’t know what to do [with students] I’ll tell to just engage them. It’s a beautiful thing.”


Hubbard knows that living on campus is practically a requirement for first-years students, but thinks they control their experience.


“I like that program, and I love the freshman program,” Hubbard said. “Because you have to [live on campus], but your attitude is everything about being here. All you’re supposed to do it go to school and all I’m supposed to do is make it so you can. Make sure the kitchen is clean, the bathroom is clean, you don’t have to worry about anything and get your food from Dining Services. The vibe is cool.”


Hubbard is also a big supporter of the Resident Assistants (RAs) of Barto Hall.

“I love how fired up they are,” Hubbard said. “It’s a good community and how that program goes. [They] go through a lot of crap for what you get out of it. RAs are the difference between being really successful or not… I love how positive RAs keep it.”


Fiona Corner, the residence hall coordinator for Barto Hall, believes that Hubbard’s effort and enthusiasm is exemplary compared to staff at CWU and at other schools she has worked at as well as helping her transition to working at CWU.


“He’s been pretty integral to my transition with his knowledge of CWU and Barto Hall.  I’ve worked in five residence halls and I’d never had a custodial staff member that I connect with,” Corner said. “His impact on our students is second to none. He doesn’t shy away from investing in them… Dale is probably the best [custodian] in terms of communicating with the students.”


In addition to bonding with residents and RAs over the last few decades, Hubbard has ingrained himself into both the CWU and Ellensburg community.


He served as a board member for Jazz in the Valley, Ellensburg’s summer jazz music festival, for 18 years, was president of the CWU chapter of the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) from 2000 to 2005, participates in different musical groups on campus (such as Brass Choir and Jazz Band) and in Ellensburg and even hosted his own blues show on 88.1 the ‘Burg for 13 years.


“I also did a Friday morning show with Thom Kokenge for about six years,” Hubbard said. “Thom and Dale’s Morning Show, we’d get there a little before 6a.m. every Friday and it was a blast.”


Kokenge, after he got his start in radio at CWU and local Ellensburg station 95.3 KXLE-FM, has been the host and producer of All Things Considered on Northwest Public Radio (NPR) since 2007. NPR is based at The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.


In addition to winning “DJ of the Year” in 2005-06, Hubbard was voted into the Tom Craven Memorial DJ Hall of Fame in Nov. 2001 and May 2003.


Bret Smith, associate professor of music education, went to school with Hubbard in Ellensburg and was a few years younger. One of his first memories of Hubbard was when they were in middle school and Hubbard played “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat and Tears.


“We had a talent show and he came out with an electric guitar,” Smith said. “As a middle schooler, I thought that was really cool.”


When Smith accepted a position to come back to his hometown and teach at CWU, he hadn’t told anyone he was moving back.


“When I moved back, one of the first phone calls I got was from Dale,” Smith said. “I hadn’t told anyone yet but it’s a small town so he must have heard around.”


Since then, Smith and Hubbard have played in a rock cover band together called Short Term Memory. They cover songs by bands such as Led Zepplin, the Rolling Stones and Duran Duran.


“We named the band that because none of us could remembe the words,” Smith said while smiling. “So we had this giant binder of songs which is so different from playing jazz or rock. We put it together and didn’t have any real pressure to perform or succeed or anything. I love that we can just pack up and play loud music and choose our favorite songs.”


[Hubbard] “is fun to play with and he’s a positive guy with great cheer,” Smith said. “The support he gives to all of us [at CWU] is great. Running an institution like CWU takes a lot of people.”


In 2015, Hubbard earned  his master’s degree in public administration from Norwich University by taking  classes online after work. He hopes to do a lot of things he’s always wanted to do in life in addition to his job.


“I’m resigned to being here, it’s a good job,” Hubbard said. “I’m trying to break into teaching with my master’s, so we’ll see. That’d be fun, and I’ve got a book in me somewhere. I studied leadership and organizational behavior and that’s something I’m really interesting in.”

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2 Responses to “Barto Hall Superman: Dale Hubbard”

  1. Tanner P on May 5th, 2017 1:17 am

    From the getgo Dale has displayed only acts of kindness and generosity towards his employees as well as residents. With my time spent as occupying a custodial summer conference assistant I’ve learned and gained an immense amount of knowledge and communication skills. Dale has definitely made my summer job into a the least of a task into a necessary act to ensure an overall excellent stay for our guests. Thank you Dale for all that you do!!!

    Sincerely, Tanner P

  2. Cynthia Hoff on May 5th, 2017 8:16 am

    Way to go, Dale! So proud to call you friend. It’s men like you who inspire youth to reach for the stars and dream big. Thanks for your enthusiast service and positive outlook on life. May you enjoy many more years at CWU and become the teacher students need to succeed in life. Kudos!!!

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Barto Hall Superman: Dale Hubbard