David Hufford smiles in front of water and trees.

A vision forward

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David Hufford’s ’67 award-winning career took him all over the country as he worked to develop a sustainable wastewater treatment program with byproducts that could be used as fertilizer. Both his expansive vision and endless curiosity helped drive his success, and he traces these qualities back to his time at Grand Valley, where he was a member of the pioneer class. Those early experiences continue to motivate Hufford to give back, something he has done for 35 years, making him part of the Lubbers Society, which recognizes donor longevity and loyalty.

Can you tell us about your career and something you’re particularly proud of?

I went to Grand Valley to become a biology teacher. I taught for one year before moving to Washington state, where I still live. I just loved it out here, but there weren’t any teaching jobs. So, I found a job with the City of Tacoma as an aquatic biologist at the wastewater plant. I was always interested in new things, so I had no problem going in a different direction.

I started in the lab, and then I went all the way to become the plant superintendent, and it was just a dream. I really loved it.

I was always investigating — that’s something I learned at Grand Valley. I wanted to make sure our biosolids didn’t have any bad bacteria in them so they could be used. I looked across the country, and I found a system that was invented in Europe. Nobody had it here, so we built a plant, and it made our biosolids sterile. We were the first in the country to have that, and the Environmental Protection Agency even paid for me to help plants on the East Coast with their processes. We also developed a program to help smaller plants, because that’s why we’re here. We’re here to help people; we’re here to help the environment. That was a huge success for me as a biologist.

An older photo of David with his GVSU graduation cap and gown, in front of the stone wall of one of the lake buildings.

David Hufford at his graduation in 1967.

Why did you decide to come to Grand Valley, and what was it like being part of the pioneer class?

I was originally going to go to the University of Michigan, but I had to put myself through college, and, when I went to Grand Valley, they said I could work for them. So, I got a job with the Biology Department, under professor Fred Bevis. And everything was new, so I made friends with every professor and asked, “What can I do for you?”

Because it was all new, we could create things. I was president of the ski and canoe club. We would canoe in the summer and fall and ski in the winter and spring. A bunch of us worked together to put together a winter carnival. It was just fun. Grand Valley expanded the way I looked at things.

An old photo of the original angus boat docked in the water

Photos of the original Angus as it was delivered to Muskegon for Grand Valley's use.

One of your jobs was on the original boat named Angus, which is now part of the Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute. Can you talk about that experience?

When the Angus got to Grand Valley, one of my professors knew I had experience because I had a boat. So, I helped with the equipment, and then I was the helmsman and helped with sampling and testing. We got that whole program started, and I got to look at all kinds of things in Lake Michigan and the Grand River.

When I got to Tacoma, we had the same kind of ecosystem, so it helped me get my job and start my career. Being on the Angus shaped how I looked at water. Plus, we were always testing things, which was a big part of my work later on.

David stands behind an ice sculpture of the great lakes and Michigan along with the GVSC crest. The words "Ski and Canoe Club Winter Water Wonderland" are written below in black letters on the snow.

David Hufford and friends initiated a winter carnival at Grand Valley as students.

You’ve consistently supported Grand Valley for years. What motivates you to give back?

Grand Valley gave me a vision forward that increased my opportunities. I got so much from the college, and I hope students can get the same things I did. I want to help students so they can give back, too. I hope they can go on to help the environment and the world. That’s worth it to me.

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