Historical Lens: Graduate Stories, 'OSC And Beyond,' Wyant College of Optical Sciences, 1964-2020

May 18, 2020

“Hi, Aden, this is Mary Warga at the Optical Society. You know Van Zandt Williams, don’t you?” Yes, but not very well. “Last week Van died of a heart attack while traveling in London. He was chairing our Needs in Optics Committee. They had made a recommendation that the U. S. needed another optical sciences center. Rochester’s Institute of Optics is the only one, and most new members of our society are from physics and engineering departments, or re-trained in industry. We think this study should go on to completion. Will you head it for us?” That sounds like a big order, Mary. Who are the other members of the Committee? “Rod Scott of PE, you know him well, Bob Hopkins of UR, Lem Hyde of American Optical, F. Dow Smith of Itek. If you agree, why don’t you come to our Washington office and discuss the future with them?” I did, and a new chapter began.(Aden Meinel, Echoes from a Simpler Time, p. 80)

The founding of the College of Optical Sciences (OSC) has been recounted many times, and one need only look to the History section of OSC’s website to learn about the major milestones along the way. But the texture—how it actually looked and felt to graduates over the years—is something I hoped to capture with this article.

For instance, how Bob Breault felt in 1969—after leaving a promising career in the U.S. Air Force—driving to campus his first day in Arizona, making his way up University Blvd. to a big hole in the ground (future site of the OSC building); or how Jannick Rolland, whose native language was French, wished she could have held a conversation in English on her first day of graduate school.

I hope you enjoy these ‘chats’ with graduates through the years on how OSC’s faculty, staff and students enriched and enhanced their day-to-day graduate school experiences and prepared them for life beyond the hallways of the Meinel building.



First OSC Graduate—Captain James Mayo, MS, 1968
1 MS Degree awarded in Spring, 1968

Number of degrees awarded in Spring, 2020
31 PhD, 41 MS, 32 BS, 1 Grad Certificate

Total number of degrees awarded since 1968
887 PhD, 1,482 MS, 7 MS PCE, 663 BS, 88 Grad Certificates

1968 James Mayo, MS 1990 Kent Rochford, PhD
1971 Leonard Mott, MS 1996 Joanna Schmit, PhD
1974 Brian Hooker, PhD 1996 Joseph Shaw, PhD
1974 Virendra Mahajan, PhD 1998 Erik Novak, PhD
1976 James Breckinridge, PhD 2005 Matthew Novak, PhD
1976 James Harvey, PhD 2009 Dae Wook Kim, PhD
1979 Robert Breault, PhD 2009 Michael Kudenov, PhD
1980 Devon Crowe, MS 2011 Anael Guilmo, MS
1980 John Greivenkamp, PhD 2011 Garam Yun Young, PhD
1984 Jack Jewell, PhD 2012 Stefano Young, PhD
1984 John Hayes, PhD 2012 Eduardo Bendek, PhD 
1985 Amy Phillips, MS 2014 Blake Coughenour, PhD
1985 Steven Saxe, PhD 2014 Laura Coyle, PhD
1985 Philip Stahl, PhD 2014 Tianquan Su, PhD
1985 Kenneth Castle, PhD 2016 Stacey Sueoka, PhD
1990 Jannick Rolland, PhD 2017 Daniel Millstone, MS