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Chase, J. Richard, 1930-2010.



  • Existence: 1930 - 2010

Biographical Statement

J. Richard Chase was born to James Warren Chase and Nina Marie Fiscus Chase on October 7, 1930. Chase was the second of four boys. He grew up outside of Oxnard, California, on the Chase Brothers Dairy, still a family-owned business today. As a boy, he imagined that he would follow in his father’s footsteps.

His plans changed over time, beginning during his last two years of high school when he attended Culter Academy. There he met Mary Sutherland, daughter of Dr. Samuel Sutherland, who would later become president of Biola College. The two began dating at 16, and married four years later, while both were students at Biola. During his undergraduate years at Biola, Dr. Chase felt the Lord was calling him into Christian education. In Dr. Sutherland, he found both a mentor and friend.

Graduating from Biola in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in theology, Dr. Chase went on to earn a B.A. in speech education and an M.A. in speech at Pepperdine University. After completing his masters’ degree, he worked part-time at Biola and then full-time in the speech department, while also pastoring a small church in Hollywood.

With the encouragement of the Biola trustees, Dr. Chase then took a leave of absence from teaching. He and Mary packed their young family, which by this time included 3-month-old Kenneth, and drove across the country to begin a doctoral program at Cornell University. While in New York, Dr. Chase worked as the youth pastor of a Baptist church in Ithaca and earned his doctorate in rhetoric and public address from Cornell.

Upon the family’s return to Biola, Dr. Chase rejoined the speech department, developing the forensic program, and forming debate teams. He served as chairman of the speech department and chairman of the humanities division during this time, and he and Mary welcomed their second child, Jennifer. He was appointed vice president in 1965, and in 1970, he became the sixth and youngest president of Biola College.

During his 12-year term at Biola, an acquisition led to the establishment of the Rosemead School of Psychology, and Dr. Chase’s tenure reached its summit when Biola College became Biola University on July 1, 1981. Described as a “good academic navigator,” Dr. Chase is remembered for developing and maintaining Biola’s twin commitments to academic excellence and Christian teaching.

Dr. Chase then felt God’s call to another Christian college far from balmy Southern California. Despite frigid temperatures on the initial interview trip, in 1982 he accepted the role of president at Wheaton, calling the post “one of the most exciting and demanding jobs in Christian higher education today.”

Under his biblically centered and constructive direction, the academic, financial, and physical dimensions of the College flourished. “Dick Chase has done much to make Wheaton the flagship of the Christian colleges,” said Dr. Kenneth Wessner ’47, trustee emeritus.

With an emphasis on strengthening the breadth of Wheaton’s academics, Dr. Chase encouraged Wheaton’s participation in the Pew Science Program, designed to enrich science educational opportunities and to attract more science students. A partnership with nearby Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) began a five-year program of liberal arts and engineering that still exists today. Also during Dr. Chase’s tenure, the Center for Applied Christian Ethics was established and the Leroy H. Pfund Lectureship began. These two programs enriched the College, bringing noteworthy speakers to discuss and debate current issues. With a vision to develop the graduate school, Dr. Chase oversaw the start of the College’s first doctoral program in clinical psychology in 1992.

Strong financial gains fueled the academic growth of this period. The endowment fund grew from $32 million to about $93 million. Such growth was in part due to the successful $36 million Campaign for Wheaton, spearheaded by Dr. Chase.

Significant changes to the campus landscape included the artful restoration of Blanchard Hall and the construction of Anderson Commons’ sun-lit dining spaces.

Dr. Chase was named America’s Outstanding Educator by the Religious Heritage of America Foundation in 1986 and, in the same year, listed among the 100 most effective college presidents in America in a nationwide survey reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education. He also served as the first chairman of the board of the Christian College Coalition.

During his 11-year tenure, Dr. Chase received some of the country’s most influential leaders to campus including former Presidents George H. W. Bush. and Jimmy Carter, evangelist Billy Graham ’43, former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.

Dr. Chase taught and served on the board at Tyndale Seminary in the Netherlands from 1993 to 2003. He also enjoyed preaching and speaking at his home church, and at Wheaton alumni events around the country and the world. He and Mary continued to enjoy spending time with family and with Wheaton alumni, faculty, and friends at HoneyRock each summer, as his health allowed.

He is survived by his wife, Mary; two children, Dr. Kenneth Chase and Jennifer Chase Barnard; and 7 grandchildren.

His children remember him for his steadiness, wisdom, generosity, and genuine concern for the well-being of others. Dr. Ken Chase, once chair of the communication department at Wheaton, says, “Looking back, our family life was extremely peaceful.”

At the core of Dr. Chase’s commitment to Wheaton, and to Christian higher education as a whole, was a profound understanding of the eternal importance of the task. In one of many moving addresses he said, “The technology of our age may soon get the basic message of salvation to our entire world. But a searching society needs the witness of those who can think Christianly. They need the witness and human touch of those who serve them, weep with them, and rejoice with them for no other reason than the compelling love of Christ.”

J. Richard Chase died at Windsor Park Manor in Carol Stream, Illinois, on August 20, 2010. He was 79 years old.

Found in 10 Collections and/or Records:

Benefits of the Body of Christ (introductory chapel) - J. Richard Chase

 Digital Record
Identifier: 19860825-chapel
Dates: Digitized: 1986 August 25

BGC Museum rededication photos

 Unprocessed Material — Folder: 1
Identifier: 2024-002
Dates: 1994-06 - 1994-06

Charles W. Colson Papers

Identifier: CN 275
Brief Description Correspondence, memos, book, article and editorial manuscripts, texts of speeches, legal papers, newspaper clippings, testimony transcripts, magazine articles, audio tapes, and photographs, all documenting many of the major phases of Colson's life, including his work as a political advisor to President Richard Nixon, his involvement in the Watergate scandal, his conversion to Christian faith that caused him to plead guilty to one of the charges against him, his imprisonment, and his life...
Dates: Created: 1960-1990

Collection 192 Papers of Harold Lindsell

Identifier: CN 192
Scope and Contents Collection contains correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, manuscripts, and other materials documenting the career and life of Harold Lindsell as a theologian, author, speaker and editor, dating primarily from his becoming Associate Editor of Christianity Today magazine in 1964. Collection contents contain considerable information on Christianity Today, Wheaton College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Westmont College, the Simon Greenleaf School of Law, and Lindsell's research on the...
Dates: 1938-1994

Collection 563 Papers of Robert Coleman

Identifier: CN 563
Brief Description Correspondence, manuscripts, oral history interviews, class lecture notes, meeting files and other materials relating to Coleman's ministry as an evangelist, scholar and church leader. Besides Coleman's own life and ministry, the collection contains voluminous material on the theology of evangelism and Christian discipleship, American 20th century Evangelicalism; the growth of Christianity in Africa, Asia and Latin America in the 20th and 21st centuries, particularly in regard to the...
Dates: 1936-2019

Collection 614 Records of the Trinary Consultation

Identifier: CN 614
Scope and Contents

Papers, recordings of meeting sessions, planning materials and other documents from the Trinary Consultation, which examined how Christians in the late twentieth century should present the Christian gospel in large urban settings. The meeting was co-sponsored by Moody Bible Institute, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Wheaton College.

Dates: Created: 1985-1986

George Beverly Shea Papers

Identifier: CN 541
Scope and Contents Correspondence, sheet music, business records, phonograph records, programs, songbooks, and other materials from Shea’s career as a soloist, radio personality, and composer. Most of the material is from the last decades of his life, especially his work with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), but the entire range of his life from the 1930s on is covered. Though representing only a fraction of Shea’s papers, it includes a rich collection of source material that Shea used in his...
Dates: 1931-2010

MSS | President Chase Papers {2018-0040}

 Unprocessed Material — Box: 1-9
Identifier: 2018-0040

Office of the President Records (J. Richard Chase)

Identifier: RG-02-006
Scope and Contents

The records document the presidency of J. Richard Chase, sixth president of Wheaton College.

Dates: Created: 1953-2018; Other: Majority of material found in 1982-1992

World Evangelical Alliance Records

Identifier: CN 338
Brief Description

Correspondence, reports, minutes, budgets, audio tapes, photographs. Topics documented included the formation of the WEF; the gradual growth of influence by non-Western associations; the activities of Evangelical Protestants in many different parts of the world; the leadership of J. Elwin Wright, Clyde Taylor, Waldron Scott, and David Howard, among others. Many of the twenty-eight audiotapes are of addresses presented at the Eighth General Assembly in Singapore in 1986.

Dates: Created: 1926-1992, undated; Other: Majority of material found in 1948-1986

Additional filters:

Collection 7
Unprocessed Material 2
Digital Record 1
Evangelicalism -- United States. 5
Evangelicalism. 4
Evangelistic work -- Congresses 3
Evangelistic work -- United States. 3
Evangelistic work. 3
∨ more
Theology 3
Theology -- Study and teaching -- Asia. 3
Authors and readers -- United States. 2
Bible. 2
Businessmen -- Religious life. 2
Christian literature. 2
Church and social problems -- Congresses. 2
Church and social problems. 2
Community development. 2
Conversion -- Personal narratives. 2
Ecumenical movement. 2
Evangelicalism -- Africa. 2
Evangelicalism -- Asia. 2
Evangelicalism -- Europe. 2
Evangelicalism -- Oceania. 2
Evangelicalism -- South Africa. 2
Evangelicalism -- South America. 2
Evangelistic work -- Biblical teaching. 2
Evangelistic work -- Hymns. 2
Evangelistic work -- Music. 2
Evangelistic work -- Philosophy. 2
Fund raising. 2
Fundamentalism. 2
Great Commission (Bible) 2
Hispanic Americans. 2
Liberalism (Religion) 2
Liberalism (Religion) -- United States. 2
Mass media in religion -- United States. 2
Mass media in religion. 2
Missions. 2
Preaching. 2
Religious institutions. 2
Theology -- Study and teaching -- United States. 2
Abortion 1
Abortion -- Religious aspects -- Christianity. 1
Abortion -- Religious aspects. 1
Administrative Records. 1
African Americans -- Missions. 1
African Americans. 1
Amnesty. -- United States. 1
Annual Reports 1
Apartheid. 1
Audiotapes 1
Authors and publishers -- United States. 1
Bass baritone. 1
Belief and doubt. 1
Billy Graham Greater London Crusade (1966: London, England) 1
Born again (Motion picture) 1
Born again. 1
Businessmen -- Religious life -- United States. 1
Businessmen. 1
Campaign funds. -- United States. 1
Capital punishment -- Christianity. 1
Christian education -- Philosophy. 1
Christian education. 1
Christian leadership -- United States. 1
Christian leadership. 1
Christian life -- Hymns. 1
Christian life. 1
Christian literature -- Publication and distribution -- United States. 1
Christian literature -- Publication and distribution. 1
Christianity and culture -- United States. 1
Christianity and culture. 1
Christianity and other religions. 1
Christianity and politics -- United States. 1
Christianity and politics. 1
Christianity today (Periodical) 1
Church and social problems -- United States. 1
Church and state. 1
Church development, New. 1
Church growth. 1
Church work with prisoners -- United States. 1
Church work with women. 1
Church. 1
Cities and towns. 1
City churches. 1
City missions. 1
Club time (Radio program) 1
Cold War. 1
Communication -- Congresses. 1
Communication. 1
Communism and Christianity. 1
Communism. 1
Community development -- Christianity. 1
Conversion -- Christianity. 1
Conversion -- Hymns. 1
Conversion -- Sermons. 1
Conversion. 1
Corporations, Religious -- United States. 1
Correspondence 1
Counseling. 1
Crime and criminals -- United States. 1
Criminals -- Rehabilitation -- United States. 1
Devotional literature. 1
Discipling (Christianity) 1
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