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
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
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.