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INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY

University’s emergency manager celebrates graduation with a tune

By : Katie Ellis

David Hubeny’s Commencement weekend 2010: Cap and gown? Check. Kilt and bagpipes? Check. Emergency management procedures? Check. Jam-packed schedule? Double-check.

But that’s what you get when you’re the emergency manager at Binghamton University, complete your master in public administration degree and also play the bagpipes in the Edward P. Maloney Memorial Pipe Band. You schedule your time — and manage to do it all.

Hubeny, a 1991 graduate of Binghamton with a bachelor’s degree in political science, now holds a master’s degree in public administration, earned as a part-time student while working full-time, raising three children with his wife and becoming the only certified emergency manager in the State University of New York system.

Hubeny “fell into” his career, he said, but it suits him. “I’ve been in emergency services and response since 1991, in the volunteer fire service and volunteer EMS,” he said. “It’s where I learned the ropes, so to speak, of emergency services and built a love for doing those kinds of things.” 

He joined the Environmental Health and Safety staff at the University in 2000, and was responsible for occupational and safety training, eventually adding emergency preparedness to his duties. In 2005, he became the full-time emergency manager, within the University’s Police Department.

Hubeny started working on his MPA degree in fall 2006, taking one class each semester and a few summer courses. He finished with the Practitioner Student Award and thrived on the opportunity for professional development.

“This degree absolutely adds to what I do,” he said. “It directly relates to what I do from both an administrative and management approach, and directly benefits my day-to-day job.” 

Life got a bit crazier in 2008, when Hubeny took up the bagpipes. He was already into the year-long process of training, document qualification, public service and preparation for a comprehensive exam to earn his certified emergency manager designation from the International Association of Emergency Managers. And he was already running the all-volunteer Broome County Hazardous Materials Response Team. Maintaining a schedule became a priority.

“It was a lot of looking at calendars very carefully, knowing what my kids’ schedules were and what nights I had class,” he said. “I did all of my homework on the weekends.”

But playing the bagpipes “was something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “It’s one of those instruments I would see in a parade and it was always a highlight for me. I’m  Irish on my mother’s side and finally just decided to do it.”   

Hubeny, whose bagpipes were made in Scotland, played in his first performance just a year ago and is gaining confidence. His repertoire is now between 20 and 30 tunes — bagpipers don’t call them songs — and he has recently started practicing a bit outside in his yard. “The neighbors are just learning that I play because I’ve usually practiced in the basement,” he said. Hubeny’s oldest son is also in the band, as a drummer, and marched in with his dad for commencement.

Hubeny’s fellow graduates were more than a little surprised when the band marched past and they saw him behind the drum major, wearing his cap and gown. “None of the other graduates knew I played,” he said. “They had no idea until I marched in with the band.” 

As he had for the Saturday ceremony while wearing cap and gown, Hubeny continued overseeing emergency preparedness at the Events Center from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. The difference was that on Sunday, he did it while wearing his tartans and performing for all three ceremonies. It didn’t seem to hinder his work at all, though he got “the occasional person who wanted a photo taken,” he said.     

And, as Hubeny’s family came together to celebrate his graduation and a son’s birthday, he’s looking forward to having some free time. As for the weekend itself? It was an uneventful, eventful one. Just like he planned.
 

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Last Updated: 10/14/08