Q&A with the First Lady of HPU

Apr 21st, 2022

Q&A with the First Lady of HPU

Mariana Qubein received her biology degree from HPU when it was still known as High Point College. When her husband, Dr. Nido Qubein, became HPU’s seventh president in 2005, she returned to her academic roots, recruiting professors and students to create an arboretum committee.

She wanted to transform her alma mater into a tree-canopied showplace where nature lives, flowers bloom and botanical gardens act as outdoor classrooms that educate, inspire, encourage contemplation and bring the community together. In 2009, the HPU Board of Trustees named the university’s botanical gardens after HPU’s First Lady.

Today, HPU’s Mariana H. Qubein Arboretum and Botanical Gardens include 29 gardens, nine plant collections, more than 700 taxa of trees, and a conservatory that brings the beauty of the arboretum and botanical gardens inside for research and enjoyment. Learn more about HPU’s First Lady and her spearheading of HPU’s gardens in the Q&A below.

Q: What do you love most about being a part of the HPU family?

I love how we work together as a team. People on our campus are caring, respectful and enterprising. It makes for a truly inspiring environment in which we can all participate.

Q: How have you watched HPU’s educational experiences change along with its physical transformation?

HPU has greatly expanded the number of academic schools, and therefore the options of educational tracks from which students can choose. There is also such an emphasis on life skills now. The effort to teach students holistically strongly benefits them. HPU is preparing students for the world as it is going to be.

Q: How has seeing the growth of the university from your time here as a student at High Point College made you feel?

I am very impressed and proud of what this campus has become, and I continue to be amazed by how our growth has catapulted HPU to the top in so many ways. Students now have a better education available to them because technology has made information so accessible. The facilities are all different now with state-of-the-art resources. The design of campus has shifted from just structures alone to beauty in fountains, sculptures, gardens and flowers. There are places to gather outside and inside for fellowship among faculty, staff and students. It’s really night and day. I can see how if I went to school now, I would be so much more involved.

Q: What do you picture when you imagine the future of the gardens as the university continues to grow?

I imagine an oasis for all our extended HPU family where they can relax, enjoy, be inspired and learn. Everyone understands how a garden can provide a beautiful space aesthetically, but it can also work educationally. Our faculty, staff and students already utilize the gardens in their research endeavors. It offers an agricultural understanding, a biological understanding and a spiritual understanding. These gardens nourish the hearts and souls of those who spend time in them. They are a place for our visitors and the surrounding community to visit and explore in the different seasons.

Q: What is your favorite garden on campus?

I love all the gardens as each one is unique in its own way, but the Ridley Rose Garden does hold a special place in my heart. It continues to amaze me how vigorously it grows from season to season. Each time the flowers go through their life, it reminds me that we can find the same strength and blossom after difficult times. It brightens the area by the Smith Library with its vibrant colors and scents.

Q: What are you most excited about with the opening of the Nido & Mariana Qubein Children’s Museum just down the street from HPU’s campus?

I love seeing the faces and voices of the community’s local children as they learn and discover the multitude of different venues we have for them. Witnessing their sense of wonder, excitement and discovery always makes me happy.

Q: Do you have a favorite exhibit in the children’s museum?

That’s hard to say because they all are my favorite! Each exhibit offers a fun and an essential learning opportunity. They allow the kids to have an imaginative mind. The different exhibits are all geared for different ages, so there’s something for everyone.

Q: What was it like for you to see the grand opening of the Qubein Arena and Conference Center during Fall Family Weekend?

I felt absolute joy and appreciation. It is amazing to work with a team on a vision that began on a piece of paper and transformed into a beautiful and meaningful facility. Seeing a facility my husband talked about and dreamed of for so long materialize in front of us was a testimony to the art of the possible.