The Robert R. Shannon Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences

    Date Posted: 
    Monday, February 4, 2019

    Good friend and academic colleague, Jim Wyant, gifted the Robert R. Shannon Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences to the College.

    “To me, this endowed chair is a fitting tribute to Bob, who has been a wonderful mentor to me for more than 50 years- first at Itek and then at OSC,” says Wyant, who fully funded the endowment at $2 million. “I want this endowment to honor this remarkable man who has made countless contributions to the science of optics as well as the College. He has a legacy for encouraging others to share in his passion for optics and I envision that the recipient of this chair will also carry that commitment.”

    Grateful for the gift of an endowed chair in his name, Shannon stressed the importance that faculty have on the College’s global reputation for academics and innovation.

    “Endowed faculty positions will transform the College, the University, the state of Arizona, and the world, as the students they teach will graduate and go on to develop technological innovations that impact society and drive economic growth,” said Shannon.

    After receiving his degrees in optics from the University of Rochester, Shannon began his career as a staff physicist and senior lens designer with Itek Corp. in Lexington, MA, and progressed to the director’s role for Itek’s Advanced Technology Labs. His research focused on the use of computers for testing and optical design, metrication of large optical systems, design of synthetic-aperture optical systems, analysis and design of unobscured-aperture optical systems, and optical fabrication and test methods.

    In 1969, Shannon came to the University of Arizona as a professor of Optical Sciences and in 1984, appointed Director of the University’s Optical Sciences Center (now known as the College of Optical Sciences). He served in that role until 1992, and now continues as Professor Emeritus of Optical Sciences at the University.

    A prolific leader in the optics community, Shannon held terms as president of both SPIE and the OSA. He served on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and Aerospace Corp.’s board of trustees, as well as a number of National Academy of Sciences committees. Bob’s many technical contributions have earned numerous awards including SPIE’s Goddard Award and Gold Medal and membership in the National Academy of Engineering. He is a fellow of OSA and SPIE.

    “These endowments will provide a critical competitive edge to attract emerging leaders in the field to the College of Optical Sciences, and represent real growth in the size and scope our program,” said Koch, adding that a search will be begin immediately. He anticipates recipients for both the Goodman and Shannon chairs will be determined by the fall 2020 academic semester.