Chase Hall opened in fall 1965 to serve as a dining hall for the growing population of students on South Campus. With a modern design and bright furnishings, the building was impressive, but the cafeteria service was plagued with problems from the start. Despite plans to serve up to 5,000 students per meal, customers complained of long lines and food that was inadequate in both quality and quantity. After the cafeteria received a "C" sanitation rating in 1967, students formed Project RETCH (Refuse to Eat Trash in Chase Hall) to lobby for better food and service. Yet problems persisted —a 2001 Alumni Review article called Chase "a metaphor for nearly everything students dislike about campus food." The original Chase was torn down in 2005 to make room for two new campus buildings. The Chase Hall name moved to Ram's Head Plaza.
The building was named for former UNC president Harry Woodburn Chase. Serving as president from 1919 to 1930, Chase, a native of Massachusetts, presided over a period of significant growth and change at the university. Building on plans started by his predecessor, Edward Kidder Graham, Chase helped develop Carolina into a modern research university. Under his leadership the university expanded graduate education, more than doubled the size of the faculty, and launched an extensive building campaign that would include new dorms, classrooms on Polk Place, and major new buildings, such as Kenan Stadium and Wilson Library. Chase also stood up for the university in the mid-1920s when the North Carolina legislature proposed a bill that would limit the teaching of evolution in state-supported schools. Using language that would inspire university responses to future ideological battles, Chase wrote to the legislature about the importance of academic freedom and the necessity of faculty being able to teach without interference from the state. Chase left Carolina in 1930 to take over as president of the University of Illinois, staying there for just a few years before going to New York University, where he spent a long tenure as president to finish his career.
Date Established: 2004
Date Range: 2004 – Present