Last Friday, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) hosted the grand opening of the John S. and Drucie R. Chase Building—bringing together alumni, community members, students, faculty and staff for an evening of fellowship and celebration.
Located in the heart of East Austin, the historic 1,450-square-foot building serves as a central hub for university-community gatherings and student-led community service projects. As the new home for the Center for Community Engagement, the building will provide numerous free resources and services to the public and programs addressing systemic inequities affecting historically marginalized communities in Austin and beyond.
Featured below are a few photo highlights from the grand opening. You can also find more photos on our Flickr page.
Guests are greeted by CEC students and staff as they arrive at the new building, located at 1191 Navasota Street.
Dr. Latoya Smith, Vice President for diversity and community engagement opened the event by sharing the historical significance of the building and expressing her gratitude for the many people—faculty, staff, students and community partners—who helped turn this vision into a reality.
“It is our vision that the John S. and Drucie R. Chase Building serve as the University’s front porch to the community,” Smith said. “The DDCE embraced this concept a number of years ago when it began its Front Porch Gatherings.”
CEC Director Dr. Suchitra Gururaj gave a warm welcome to the guests, encouraging them all to step inside and tour the rooms that will provide a wealth of resources and services for the Austin community.
Chase family members show their Longhorn pride with UT President Jay Hartzell.
CEC Senior Administrative Associate Emma Middleton shows Tommie Wyatt, editor-in-chief and publisher of The Villager, around the new space.
Guests explore the rooms, which include historical timeline displays about the building itself and the historic Robertson Hill neighborhood. The displays include QR codes for more online stories about East Austin history and the building’s previous lives as the headquarters of the Colored Teachers Association of Texas, and the House of Elegance beauty salon owned by Dr. E.M. Pease and operated by her daughter Dr. Pearl Cox (pictured above).
Stephanie Lang, CEC director of equity and community advocacy, gives President Hartzell a brief historical tour of the Robertson Hill neighborhood.
From left: School of Architecture Dean Dr. Michelle Addington, President Hartzell and UT Precursor Col. Leon Holland enjoying the evening’s festivities.
Guests dining al fresco with friends and colleagues on the building’s new patio space, which will serve as an outdoor venue for future community-wide events.
Musicians from the Girl Scouts of Central Texas Harp Ensemble perform for the crowd.
Visit the Center for Community Engagement’s website for more information about the history of John S. and Drucie R. Chase and of the building itself. Read more about the event in this Austin American-Statesman story.