Spotlight on CAPLA Supporters: Chuck and Claire Albanese
Supporting our Extended Family

In 1966, my wife Claire and I spent a year travelling throughout Europe while I studied architecture on a grant from my alma mater, the University of Illinois. During our trip, I was applying for teaching positions and was fortunate to have five offers on the table-including one to join the faculty of the University of Arizona’s College of Architecture.

Claire and I looked up Tucson on a map in an old flea market. I noticed two rivers intersected near it, so I thought the fishing must be great and accepted the UA’s offer. True story.

The day we arrived, it was 107 degrees. “It’s only a year contract,” we said to each other. “Then we can go somewhere that’s not hot and dusty.”

But we began building lifelong relationships from the day we arrived.

I taught at the UA for the first year, and then another, and another. It’s where I grew up professionally. The University’s history and traditions, combined with Tucson’s diverse culture and the uniqueness of the Sonoran Desert drew us in. I quickly realized I was part of an institution on the rise, and a member of a small, but incredibly dedicated, architecture faculty. Even eventual lucrative offers from other universities could not change our minds.

Inspired by our own travel, Claire and I created and directed a summer study abroad program for students, where they’d spend six weeks with us in Italy and Greece learning onsite sketching, watercolor painting and journal writing. Every trip was an immersion experience, and students were always so proud of the work they would produce. Of the 500 or so students we’ve traveled with over the years as part of our “University family,” at least nine couples eventually married!

I retired after 40 years as dean of the present College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, but Claire and I continue to stay engaged and encourage our alumni to, as well.  In addition to helping the College build its new facility, which was completed in 2007, we established an endowment through the University of Arizona Foundation to fund summer travel for future generations of students.

Tucson and the UA became our permanent home, but this discovery began in Europe. Who knows what doors we can open for others by helping fund similar experiences? The possibility of changing lives is why we give back.

Charles Albanese is dean emeritus in the University of Arizona’s College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture. In addition to establishing an endowed travel fund and supporting the College outright, he and his wife Claire established a legacy gift through their estate plan, and continue to nurture lifelong relationships with former students