The Diocese of Des Moines
Longtime Schools Superintendent Dr. Luvern Gubbels Retiring
November 7, 2014
Written By: Anne Marie Cox

             Dr. Luvern Gubbels dedicated his life – nearly 50 years of his career – attending to children, parents, bishops and dioceses by working in and promoting Catholic education.

            After serving nearly a third of his career with the people of the Diocese of Des Moines, the diocesan Schools Superintendent Dr. Gubbels announced he will retire at the end of the school year in June 2015.

            “My first response to Dr. Gubbels, when he told me of his retirement plans, was one of gratitude,” said Bishop Richard Pates. “He has served generously and capably for19 years in the diocese and has helped to guide our schools through many challenges. Our schools remain strong with a solid Catholic identity and outstanding academic achievement. Dr. Gubbels has played an instrumental role in reaching such a status.”         

            Dr. Gubbels accomplished much during his years in the Diocese of Des Moines. He facilitated the creation of standards, benchmarks and grade/course level expectations for all curriculum areas, facilitated the creation and implementation of a standards-based reporting system, created a schools marketing committee worked with diocesan and local boards of education and school boards, represented the accredited nonpublic school administrators for Heartland AEA, served on the Polk County Empowerment Board and was a member of the Iowa Religious Media board of directors. He serves on the board of Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education.

            He has been a strong advocate for financial aid for families that want to send their children to Catholic schools. Dr. Gubbels has supported the financial aid programs Project HOPE and the Catholic Tuition Organization, and has advocated for Iowa ACE, which lobbies state legislators for funding for nonpublic school families.

            A product of Catholic schools, Dr. Gubbels followed his passion for Catholic education. After graduating from St. John Vianney Seminary in Elkhorn, Neb., he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo. and continued at the seminary before discerning that priesthood was not his vocation.

            He began his career teaching at his hometown school in Randolph, Nebraska at St. Francis de Chantel Catholic Grade School. He also taught at Archbishop Rummel High School in Omaha before earning a master’s degree in administration and a specialist degree in education from the University of Nebraska – Omaha. He earned his doctorate in administration, curriculum and administration from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He served as principal of Holy Name School (pre-K- 12) and St. Robert Bellarmine Grade School, then was the coordinator for Catholic Southwest School, all in Omaha. He served as the director of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Winona, Minn. before coming to Des Moines.

            In retirement, Dr. Gubbels plans to find ways to continue to serve in Catholic education on a voluntary basis in Omaha.

            Bishop Pates is establishing a search committee that will advise him regarding the selection of Dr. Gubbels’ successor as superintendent of schools.


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