UA to Honor Jim Oschmann as 2014 Alumnus of the Year for the College of Optical Sciences

UA to Honor Jim Oschmann as 2014 Alumnus of the Year for the College of Optical Sciences
Honor to be bestowed at UA homecoming celebration.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014

TUCSON, Ariz.— As part of its homecoming festivities, The University of Arizona (UA)  will honor  Jacobus (Jim) Oschmann, Vice President and General Manager of Civil Space and Technology at Ball Aerospace Corp. as a 2014 Alumnus of the Year on Nov. 7.  Jim is receiving this honor in recognition of his significant contributions to the field of optical sciences, particularly in optical design and technology development.

The College of Optical Sciences is globally known for its outstanding teaching and research programs,” said Thomas L. Koch, Ph.D., dean of the college. “While this reputation stems from the brilliance of our students and the dedication and expertise of our faculty, it is also our Alumni, like Jim, who have driven our success.

His extraordinary accomplishments and dedication to his career makes Jim most deserving of this prestigious honor,” Koch added.

“I have worked very closely with Jim since 2008 and found him to be not only a superb leader and mentor, but also a powerful advocate for the development and advancement of the optical sciences in industry and academia,“ said Robert Freedman, Vice President and General Manager of  Tactical Solutions, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

As a University of Arizona alumnus he is an outstanding role model who has brought great credit to the University and the industry,” Freedman added.

Jim received a Bachelor of Science in Optics from the University of Rochester which ignited an interest to further his studies in this field.  In 1983, he earned a Master of Science degree from the UA College of Optical Sciences and later returned to the University to earn an MBA from the Eller School of Business.

Prior to joining Ball Aerospace Corp., Boulder, Colorado, in 2004, Jim held positions in technical and managerial positions across the science and industry community, including the Gemini Observatory and the National Solar Observatory.

Matt Mountain, Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, first met Jim when they worked together on the Gemini 8m Telescopes Project. 

“Jim personally exemplifies the connection and the continual pursuit of excellence that has made the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona such a globally recognized institution,” says Mountain.

Jim holds two patents and has authored over 20 publications. He is a Fellow and Lifetime member of SPIE, chair of its membership committee and has served on the Board of Directors. He is a chairman of the SPIE conference on Optical, Infrared and Millimeter Space Telescopes. He has and continues to serve on various NASA, National Science Foundation and Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy review and advisory boards for a broad range of technology and both ground and space based observatories.

“Having an education from a world leading academic institution of optical sciences has opened many incredible doors of opportunities for me throughout my career. And because of my education, I have especially enjoyed the chance to work side-by-side with so many fascinating and accomplished scientist and business leaders,” Oschmann said.

Recognizing the critical importance to mentor a new generation of scientists, engineers, and scholars, Jim also volunteers on several advisory committees that are charged with providing strategic and mission guidance and advice to university and academic department administrators. At the UA, he serves on the College of Optical Science Development Board and is an active leader at Eller College.

“My continued connections with the College of Optical Sciences and Eller have also offered great benefits to my employers for recruiting purposes,” Oschmann added. 

In 2012, Jim and his wife, Michelle, established the Jacobus and Michelle Oschmann Scholarship in Optical Sciences and Business Leadership. The scholarship supports first-year graduate students in optical sciences who may also hold a career interest in business management.

The U of A 100th anniversary homecoming will take place Nov. 6-8, 2014, with tens of thousands expected in attendance. The award will be presented on Friday, Nov. 7 during the UA Alumni of the Year Awards Program in the UA Student Union South Ballroom from 3-5 p.m.

About the University of Arizona James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences: 

The University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences, founded as the Optical Sciences Center, has been shaping the future since 1964 by offering high-quality instruction, cutting-edge research and a solid commitment to the development of the optics industry. OSC remains dedicated to providing the state of Arizona and the nation with an internationally pre-eminent program in all aspects of the study of light. For more information, please visit or call 520-621-6997.


Kaye Rowan