Monday, August 1, 2022

Environmental Law Initiative is established, the program director hired, and plans take shape.

The University of Iowa College of Law received a $5 million gift in late 2021 to establish the Hubbell Environmental Law Initiative (HELI) with a goal of generating opportunities for Iowa Law to deepen and broaden its engagement with environmental issues in Iowa and beyond.

The initiative was created by the vision and generosity of Law Alumni Charlotte Beyer Hubbell (76JD) and Fred Hubbell (76JD). The gift, which is the largest in Iowa Law history, is intended to create an active forum for interdisciplinary engagement on important environmental issues, support law students, faculty and curriculum, and ultimately strengthen the environmental law bar in Iowa. It will also help to draw together interdisciplinary groups and researchers across the university and the state in dialogue and discussion. Work has begun quickly as a reflection of the urgency of the issues and purpose behind the gift.

“This is an exciting opportunity to enhance the interdisciplinary study of environmental issues in Iowa. From the ongoing degradation of rivers and streams to the adverse consequences of nutrient run off in the Gulf of Mexico affecting the lives of our fellow Americans, from reliance on fossil fuels to their impact on climate change, there is much we can all do to move toward a more sustainable future. This initiative is one step we can take to give future Iowans a place they are proud to call home.”

- Charlotte Beyer Hubbell and Fred Hubbell

HELI began work in early 2022 with Professor Shannon Roesler serving as the faculty director. Professor Roesler focuses her teaching and scholarship on issues of environmental justice, environmental and energy governance, and climate change litigation.  Earlier this summer, Blake Rupe joined as HELI’s first program director. Rupe joins HELI from the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability and Environment, where she served as sustainability program manager. Together, they are developing HELI events for the 2022-23 academic year, engaging advisors from the Iowa Law community, and creating a multi-year plan to meet the Hubbell’s important vision. For 2022-23, HELI will sponsor an event on solar energy policy in Iowa and a conference on climate change adaptation.

 “The Hubbells have provided Iowa Law with an extraordinary opportunity to activate change in Iowa. Their relationship—like many great relationships—began at Iowa Law. Their loyalty, affinity, and success enable them to give back and we will all benefit from it. We have been hard at work organizing for this launch. Professor Roesler’s leadership and strategy are coming together to start this important work.”

- Kevin Washburn, N. William Hines Dean and Professor of Law

Iowa Law is enthusiastic about the opportunity to convene leaders on collaborative problem solving. By bringing people together, developing dialogue, and confronting issues of law, science and public policy, HELI seeks to contribute to actionable and constructive solutions to persistent environmental problems. To reflect the urgency of the need, the Hubbell gift is not an endowed gift. Rather than establishing a legacy at Iowa Law, the Hubbells generosity has enabled Iowa Law to get to work immediately. Their gift will fund the budget for HELI for the next decade.

Class of 1976 photos of Charlotte Beyer and Fred Hubbell in black and white

The Hubbells met while attending the University of Iowa College of Law. They are both graduates of the Class of 1976. Charlotte earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Newcomb College and Fred received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Their shared passion for environmental issues and being change agents runs deep. In 2007, Charlotte was appointed by Iowa Governor Chet Culver to serve on the State Environmental Protection Commission for a four-year term and served as chair for two years. She is currently a member of the Environmental Law and Policy Center’s advisory board in Chicago, Illinois, and served on the board of the Iowa Nature Conservancy from 1994-98 and was one of the founders of the Iowa Environmental Council, the largest and most comprehensive environmental coalition in the state, in 1995. She served as board president from 1996-98. Fred is on the advisory council for the Environmental Law & Policy Center and has served as the Interim Director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development, as Chairmen of the Iowa Power Fund Board, and on the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.


  • Laura Kivlighan (, Marketing Manager, UI College of Law
  • Shannon Roesler (, the Charlotte and Frederick Hubbell Professor of Environmental and Natural Resources Law and the Hubbell Environmental Law Initiative Faculty Director
  • Blake Rupe (, Program Director, Hubbell Environmental Law Initiative