College of Business alumnus and wife commit additional $1 million to enhance Eminent Scholar chair in real estate

J. Harold and Barbara Chastain

J. Harold Chastain credits the Florida State University College of Business with laying the solid foundation that prepared him for successful careers in the banking and real estate arenas. In gratitude, the 1955 graduate and his wife, Barbara, have been faithful and generous supporters of the college throughout the years.

This week, the Chastains announced that they have added another $1 million to an earlier gift through their estate plan. The additional funding will likely make the J. Harold and Barbara Chastain Eminent Scholar Chair in the Department of Risk Management/Insurance, Real Estate & Legal Studies the largest endowed position in the College of Business, with funding of as much as $2 million.

“We are overwhelmed by the Chastains’ support and generosity,” said College of Business Dean Caryn Beck-Dudley. “Their gift means the college can retain one of the preeminent scholars in real estate, which is a real benefit to all of us at the college. And it especially enriches the education of our students.”

In 1999, the Chastains committed $600,000 to establish the J. Harold and Barbara Chastain Eminent Scholar Chair. After fulfilling their commitment, a state matching gift brought that amount to $1 million. The 1999 gift made it possible for the college to bring C.F. Sirmans, one of the nation’s leading scholars in real estate finance and economics, to the college in 2009 and bestow on him the title of J. Harold and Barbara Chastain Eminent Scholar.

Harold Chastain, who served as president of First Environmental Services, a division of First City Federal Savings and Loan Association in Bradenton, Fla., and chief real estate appraiser for that institution before becoming a private real estate investor, was characteristically modest about his latest gift.

“Whatever successes I have enjoyed, I owe in large part to Florida State University,” he said. “If our financial endowment plays a small part in the national recognition of FSU’s real estate program as one of the country’s very best, then we have accomplished our objective and been generously rewarded.”

Dean Gatzlaff
Dean Gatzlaff

Florida State’s real estate program is ranked eighth nationally among programs at public universities and 11th among all programs by U.S. News and World Report for 2012. In addition, the program faculty is ranked second in the world in published research, according to a 2010 Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics article, with C.F. Sirmans ranked No. 1 and G. Stacy Sirmans, the Kenneth Bacheller Professor of Real Estate, ranked 20th.

“The Chastains’ initial gift allowed us to attract one of the world’s leading scholars and an incredible program resource to FSU,” said Dean Gatzlaff, the Mark C. Bane Professor in the College of Business and director of its Center for Real Estate Education & Research. “This generous addition to the endowment ensures that our efforts to be the best and to build the future are enduring.”

For more information on the Chastains’ gift or the College of Business, contact Barbara Ash at (850) 728-7014 or