Philanthropist, Business Leader, and LGBTQ Advocate, Fred Eychaner, Awarded Illinois Tech Honorary Doctorate

Prominent businessman, philanthropist, and LGBTQ advocate Fred Eychaner was today awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Architecture from Illinois Institute of Technology

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CHICAGO—May 14, 2022—Illinois Institute of Technology to award Fred Eychaner, a longtime activist whose work has shaped Chicago and the nation for more than 40 years, an Honorary Doctor of Architecture, honoris causa. The degree will be conferred at the university’s Commencement ceremony on Saturday,  May 14, 2022.

Eychaner is chairman of Newsweb LLC and president of Alphawood Foundation Chicago, and is known for his philanthropy, especially in support of LGBTQ organizations, HIV support organizations, arts institutions, public spaces, and historic preservation.

He has also had a lifelong dedication to preserving the architectural heritage of Chicago and the United States. He led efforts in the 1990s to restore and protect Louis Sullivan’s masterpiece Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Under Eychaner’s leadership, the Alphawood Foundation led the comprehensive restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois.

“I am proud to honor those who have shaped our history for the better. Fred Eychaner has enriched Chicago and the world through his advocacy, visionary leadership, and service to others,” Illinois Tech President Raj Echambadi says. “His architectural contributions have shaped Chicago, and his lifelong advocacy is an inspiration to everyone working to fulfill our founding purpose at Illinois Tech to liberate the power of difference by advancing technology and progress for all. I am proud to confer the university’s highest honor upon this remarkable man.”

Before his death, Louis Kahn designed Four Freedoms Park to honor President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Roosevelt Island in the East River of New York across from the United Nations. The project floundered for many years until Eychaner and Alphawood stepped in to provide funding and technical support to staff the organization and to become the lead donor in realizing Kahn’s amazing vision.

Eychaner sought Tadao Ando, now considered Japan’s preeminent Modernist architect, for Ando’s first project in North America in the early 1990s, and in 2018, completed the construction of another Ando-designed project, Wrightwood 659 art gallery.

President Barack Obama appointed Eychaner as a general trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in September 2010, and reappointed him in 2016. Eychaner is one of the first openly gay members of that board. Eychaner served as co-chair of the Kennedy Center’s Architect Selection Committee and is a member of its building committee. In 2014 Eychaner became the first Chicagoan to receive the prestigious Lambda Legal National Liberty Award for his lifetime of activism on behalf of the LGBTQ community.

Eychaner is a former board member of the Illinois ACLU, an early board member and leader of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and a founding board member and former chairman of the Joffrey Ballet. He also serves on the board of the Art Institute of Chicago, as a trustee of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and on the Visiting Committee for Asian Art of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In 2015 Eychaner was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame.

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Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused research university. Illinois Tech is the only university of its kind in Chicago, and its Chicago location offers students access to the world-class resources of a great global metropolis. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, computing, architecture, business, design, science and human sciences, and law. One of 22 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities, Illinois Tech provides an exceptional education centered on active learning, and its graduates lead the state and much of the nation in economic prosperity. Illinois Tech uniquely prepares students to succeed in professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit.  Visit iit.edu.