December 07, 2001 11:00 pm
Generous alum:David Huber, a 1974 Eastern Oregon University graduate, speaks at a reception Thursday where it was announced he is donating $600,000 to his alma mater. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
Generous alum:David Huber, a 1974 Eastern Oregon University graduate, speaks at a reception Thursday where it was announced he is donating $600,000 to his alma mater. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

David Huber grew up literally in the shadow of Eastern Oregon University.

On Thursday the sun was not shining in La Grande, but this did not prevent Huber from casting a shadow of historic proportions at Eastern.

Huber gave $600,000 to Eastern, the largest donation in the schools history.

Huber provided $500,000 for EOUs $33.5 million Science Center project. He also gave $100,000 earmarked for a physics and engineering scholarship endowment at Eastern.

A 1974 Eastern graduate, Huber is the presdent and founder of Corvis Corp., a Maryland-based firm that develops fiber-optic telecommunication equipment. The company is multibillion-dollar firm.

Huber credits the support he received from Eastern and the La Grande community with playing a major role in his success.

It was a driving force. It gave me my start. I give a lot of credit to the quality of faculty and the people who believed in me, said Huber, who grew up at the foot of EOU. The influence that they had on my development can not be underestimated.

Huber spoke from the heart, stopping several times because of the emotion he felt.

Huber is a 1968 graduate of La Grande High School and the son of the late James R. and Margaret M. Huber. James died last spring. Hubers mother Margaret lives in Utah.

The family lived in La Grande, where Huber was raised. James was one of Union Countys first Oregon State University Extension agents, and Margaret was a home-economics teacher at La Grande High School. The physics and engineering scholarship Huber is endowing will be named after his parents.

Eastern will honor Hubers donation to the Science Center by naming its 150-seat auditorium after him.

Huber attended Brigham Young University after graduating from Eastern. In 1980 he received a doctorate in electrical engineering from BYU.

At BYU, Huber missed the small classes and personal atmosphere Eastern provided.

It makes a real difference when you are a freshman and your professor knows you personally, Huber said.

Professors who made a lasting impression on Huber included Ralph Badgley, a science professor at Eastern from 1931 to 1969. Easterns present science building is named after Badgley, who died in 1982.

Huber recalled that Badgley reached many young people by conducting science youth days in the community. He took a lot of time away (from his own projects) to help others, Huber said.

He also saluted former EOU President David Gilbert, who was a physics professor when Huber attended Eastern.

He took a real interest, said Huber, who lives in Columbia, Md.

Community members who Huber lauded included his former 4-H leaders Ron Westenskow and Bob Staley, who taught him about electronics and automotives. Huber has fond memories of his involvement in 4-H. This is why he he donated $140,000 to the Union County 4-H program in the late 1990s according to an article which appeared in the Nov. 26, 2000, edition of the Baltimore Sun.

The science center project Huber is supporting will add 67,480 square feet to EOUs current Badgley Hall science building of 30,090 feet, A 7,500-square-foot biotech lab and a 5,000-square-foot greenhouse will also be added.

In the process of adding 67,480 square feet of science building floor space, 27 high-tech laboratories and 60 offices will be added. Biotech research and development labs will be added, and much more will be done. Construction is expected to start early next year.

Hubers donation was announced at a reception in the alumni room of Ackerman Hall. EOU President Phil Creighton introduced Huber.

I am very pleased and proud to receive Dr. Huberts generous gift, Creighton said. This comes at a critical time in the private fund-raising component of our Science Center campaign. Such a show of support means a great deal to this project.

The second largest financial donation Eastern ever received was a gift of almost $134,000 from Esther Badgley in 1992. She was the wife of EOU science professor Ralph Badgley.

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Mechanical devices have fascinated David Huber throughout his life.

When he was 5, he took apart a washing machine motor. He was overcome with joy when it began rumbling around the floor after he assembled it and plugged it in.

When he was in fifth grade, he built his first electric motor. Huber remained interested in electronics through high school.

After earning degrees from Eastern Oregon University and BYU, Huber worked for several optical communications technology companies. In 1989 he was hired by General Instrument Corp., where he managed its light-wave research and development program.

In 1991, Huber left General Instrument and founded Ciena Corp. Huber left the company in 1997. In June 1997, he started NOVA Telecommunications Inc. to develop equipment for an all-optical communications network. Huber renamed the company Corvis Corp. in 1999. The company raised more than $1 billion when its stock went public.

An article that appeared in the Nov. 26, 2000, Baltimore Sun said what makes Corvis exceptional is that all of its gear is optical. Optical networks transmit signals voice or data via beams of light, instead of as electrical


Using light beams instead of electrical signals to send information costs much less.