American legend. Alaskan icon. Santa Clara treasure.

Before Steve Nash. Before Leon Panetta. Before Brandi Chastain. There was Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J.

American legend. Alaskan icon. Santa Clara treasure.
Photo courtesy SCU Archives
A 1936 documentary about Alaska narrated by Hubbard—and his guest appearance in 1956 on Science in Action.

Known as the Glacier Priest, Fr. Hubbard was Santa Clara’s first global celebrity.

Born in 1888, Bernard Hubbard attended Santa Clara before entering the Jesuit order in 1908. While in Austria in the 1920s completing his theological studies, he earned his nickname for his devotion to alpine climbing and photography.

In 1926, Hubbard returned to Santa Clara as a professor of Greek, German, and geology. His exploration of the Alaskan wilderness began in the summer of 1927, when he was sent to lead a retreat for the Sisters of St. Anne in Juneau. He subsequently led 31 scientific expeditions into regions of Alaska and the Arctic until shortly before his death in 1962.

Father Hubbard’s adventures through never-before-explored territory brought him broad renown. During his expeditions, Fr. Hubbard snapped thousands of photographs and recorded thousands of feet of motion picture film, some of which appeared in Hollywood newsreels and features. National magazines published his articles, and he wrote several books. He financed his trips with proceeds from lectures; during the 1930s, he was the highest-paid lecturer in the world. Today, his photographs (preserved in the SCU archives) and film collection (residing with the Smithsonian Institution) provide a valuable record of Alaska in the 1930s.

During his lifetime, Hubbard was well known as an explorer, geologist, volcanologist, photographer, writer, and speaker. But he was also a Jesuit priest. He began each day with a Mass. He spoke the rosary when confronted with danger. He compiled an Eskimo dictionary that included the story of Christ, a catechism, and prayers of the Catholic Church. During and after WWII, he became an advisor to the U.S. military on Alaska and a lecturer/chaplain to the Alaskan troops. And he aided the Jesuit missions of Alaska by building and helping raise funds for chapels and shrines throughout the region.


Follow in Fr. Hubbard’s footsteps on our summer trip. Visit the Alumni Association website for more information or to sign up.

In honor of his Golden Jubilee year as a Jesuit and his 70th birthday, the staff of The Redwood dedicated the 1957 yearbook to Fr. Hubbard, stating: “No one more illustriously carried the name of Santa Clara across the world. As an explorer and lecturer; as a geologist and educator; as a special consultant and chaplain to the Armed Forces in Alaska; and as a missionary of the Faith, Father’s labors of fifty years writes a record of distinction.”

To recognize and remember the unique imprint Fr. Hubbard has left on Santa Clara’s history, the Alumni Association is leading a trip to Alaska in July 2013. Join Jack Treacy, S.J. ’77, director of Campus Ministry (and avid Alaska traveler) and your fellow Broncos as we follow some of the trails Fr. Hubbard blazed, including Mendenhall Glacier and Katmai National Park, and visit the Shrine of St. Therese in Juneau. In the spirit of the Glacier Priest, we will learn the state’s history, explore its beauty and expansiveness, and meet with people in the local communities who have modernized this wild and wonderful territory.

Please join us on what I know will be a great adventure, a learning experience, and a memorable journey in the footsteps of Santa Clara’s first global celebrity.

Go Broncos!

Kathy Kale ’86
Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations

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