Posted on December 13, 2021 by Rory Dew

DECEMBER 13, 2021 – Last week, the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design (Klesse College) unveiled a gift from the Dee Howard Education Fund and The Dee Howard Foundation. A Dee Howard XR Learjet replica model is now proudly displayed in the lobby area of the Engineering Building’s first floor. Located directly outside of Dr. Christopher Combs’ lab, the Howard XR Learjet replica is both a tribute to the past of San Antonio’s aviation industry and an opportunity to inspire future leaders in the sector.

An unveiling ceremony was held on Tuesday, December 7, and saw remarks from Dee Howard Education Fund Chair Wayne Fagan, Klesse College Dean JoAnn Browning, Mechanical Engineering Interim Department Chair Ender Finol and Dee Howard Endowed Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Christopher Combs.

The gift from the Dee Howard Education Fund and The Dee Howard Foundation is the latest demonstration of the organizations’ commitment to supporting aerospace education in the San Antonio area and maintaining the strength of San Antonio’s aviation and automotive industries. Named in honor of the late aviation pioneer and entrepreneur Dee Howard, the Foundation, Wayne and Julie Fagan, and Dee’s family have been long term supporters of Klesse College’s academic programs and have simultaneously worked with local Pre-K through 12 educators to increase exposure to and opportunities for STEM education particularly focused on underserved students.

“Dee was known for cutting edge innovations and integrity,” said Wayne Fagan. “Coming from a humble background himself he loved to give employees of a similar background, women and people of color a helping hand to advance their careers. Dee Ann and I are honored and grateful to Dr. Browning and the entire team at the Klesse College for the opportunity to partner with them and their students in carrying on Dee’s legacy.”

Designed and built in San Antonio, the Howard XR (Extended Range) modification for the Learjet improved the aircraft’s efficiency by 23% by achieving maximum aircraft range at mach 0.80 cruising speed at a time when few aircrafts could attain such performance. Dee’s company, The Dee Howard Co. (DHC) was founded in 1964 and employed a workforce of more than 1,500 (including over 350 employees in engineering) by the late eighties.

The Klesse College wishes to thank Wayne Fagan and Dee’s daughter, Dee Ann Bridges (co-founders of The Dee Howard Foundation and the Dee Howard Education Fund) for their generous gift and ongoing support of our students, faculty, and college more broadly.


The Howard XR Learjet model is proudly displayed inside the Engineering Building on UTSA’s Main Campus.

— Rory Dew