Dr. Dean VanTrease

The Story Behind the Portrait of Dr. Dean VanTrease

Dr. VanTrease was the second president of Tulsa Community College located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Although he had been with the college since its inception, he took the job as president after his predecessor and good friend, Dr. Al Philips retired.

Dr. VanTrease was instrumental in continuing the growth of Tulsa Community College (first named Tulsa Junior College). One of his many achievements was the creation of the Performing Arts Center.

Created as an educational resource for all of Tulsa, the Performing Arts Center for Education (PACE) houses the College's performing arts programs, along with the Signature Symphony at TCC, a professional orchestra operating under the auspices of Tulsa Community College.

The 1,500-seat main hall features a proscenium stage and exceptional seating on three levels: ten private theatre boxes, tiered orchestral seating, and a balcony.

When I met Dr. VanTrease he allowed me a generous amount of time to interview him and get to know him and take me on a tour of the center, showing off the a fully-equipped scene shop, metal shop, sound recording studio, design studio, lighting design laboratory, costume shop, teaching studio, and practice rooms.

But the one thing that he took such pleasure in was the selection of the seats in the auditorium. He wanted to make sure that they were comfortable and that the floor plan would accommodate enough seats for the audience and were easily accessible for the handicapped. One part of his process for chair selection was to have each chair that was being considered to be placed in his office. Dr. VanTrease would then "capture" anybody who visited his office or just walked by and ask them to try out the chairs. This turned out to be one of his legacies and one of which he was quite proud, deservedly so.

And so, I suggested that his portrait should be of Dr. VanTrease posing with the chairs that are used in the auditorium named after him.


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