Building a Vision

The Chase family honors Texas’ first Black architect by investing in UT students and faculty.
Published on: June 8, 2022
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Chase in front of his family home in Houston with children Tony (left) and John Jr. (right). Photo courtesy the John and Drucie Chase Collection, African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library

John S. Chase, MArch ’52, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, is well known for being the first — the first Black graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin, the first Black graduate of UT’s School of Architecture, the first Black licensed architect in the state of Texas, and even the first Black president of the Texas Exes.

Earlier this year his son, Houston entrepreneur, law professor and civic leader Tony Chase, made a gift to ensure that John Chase’s legacy is carried on by generations of outstanding architects trained at UT. Chase and his wife, Dr. Dina Alsowayel, committed $1 million to create two new endowments supporting students and faculty in Texas Architecture.

“My father always said, ‘A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,’” Chase says.

The John S. Chase Family Endowed Fellowship will be used primarily to recruit graduates of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and increase representation in the profession, while the John S. Chase Family Endowed Professorship in Architecture will help recruit and retain outstanding faculty members.

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Chase enrolls for classes in 1950, only two days after Sweatt v. Painter was settled by the Supreme Court

“John Chase brought his considerable talent, creativity and education together to design special places that brought people together,” says UT President Jay Hartzell. “This gift is an investment in the transformative power of education to bring about that sort of change and impact, and will support us as we continue to strive for excellence delivered through a richly diverse and inclusive campus.”

“Throughout his life, and as reflected in his built works, John Chase was a connector and a community-builder,” says Michelle Addington, dean of the School of Architecture. “He used his pioneering position to create opportunities for others. We are extremely grateful for Tony’s incredible gift and honored to continue John Chase’s legacy of creating opportunities for a whole new generation.”

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