SPIE Endowed Chair Established at Wyant College

Aug. 14, 2019










SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has added its name to an endowed faculty chair position with The University of Arizona James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences.

Announced at the College’s reception, held on Tuesday in conjunction with the SPIE Optics + Photonics conference in San Diego, Kent Rochford, PhD, CEO for SPIE said the SPIE Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences symbolizes the society’s mission to partner with researchers and educators to advance light-based research and technologies for the betterment of humanity. 

“As a not-for-profit educational charity, SPIE is uniquely positioned to devote resources that create a larger pipeline of scientists and engineers knowledgeable about optics,” said Rochford. “We are keenly aware of the Wyant College of Optical Sciences’ commitment to emerging new leaders in optics – and are eager to support a faculty member who will teach future generations of leaders to excel.”

Thomas L Koch, PhD, dean for Wyant College, commended SPIE for their vision and dedication to the future of optics with their endowment gift.   

“Endowed chairs are among the most generous and critical gifts in higher education and serve as vital support for academic excellence,” said Koch. “In addition to enabling the creation of a new faculty position, having SPIE’s name on this endowed chair will help attract the faculty we need to advance our teaching and research mission into exciting new areas of optics and photonics.”

At the College reception, Rochford also shared the news of SPIE’s new educational-funding initiative called the SPIE Endowment Matching Program.

“This new SPIE program will enhance educational capacities in optics and photonics by supporting endowment funding at qualified institutions,” said Rochford, adding that the program’s first grant of $500,000 created the SPIE Chair in Optical Sciences at Wyant College.

The SPIE endowed chair is now the third of recently announced by the College associated with a $20 million gift to the University of Arizona by Dr. James C. Wyant and his family in 2018. The Wyant family gift established the Distinguished Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences Fund to create a minimum of 10 new faculty. When a donor, like SPIE, offers $500,000 to create a new, named endowed faculty chair, the fund receives $1.5 million from the Wyant fund for a combined balance of $2 million.

The J.W. and H.M. Goodman Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences and the Robert Shannon Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences were first to be announced for this campaign in February 2019.  The College was also very fortunate to have an endowed chair named for Harrison and Catherine Barrett established prior to the campaign launch.    

“It is quite appropriate that the SPIE Endowed Chair is now positioned at the College with three existing endowed chairs bearing the names of legendary scientists in field of optics - Barrett, Goodman and Shannon. It is also noteworthy that all three have held volunteer leadership roles with SPIE as well,” said Koch.

These endowments, according to Koch, enable growth in the size and scope of the College and provide the critical resources needed to attract emerging leaders in the field.   

 “We share in SPIE’s mission to advance the talent base and research that will propel remarkable new applications of optics and photonics to improve our lives,” Koch added.  “We are honored and deeply appreciative that SPIE has placed its confidence in the Wyant College of Optical Sciences in this pursuit.”  


Photo Captions:

Photo #1 (Left to Right): Kaye Rowan, Senior Director of Development, Wyant College; Tom Koch, Dean, Wyant College; Tammy Orr and Jim Wyant; Jim Oschmann, President, SPIE; and Kent Rochford, CEO, SPIE. (Photo by SPIE)

Photo #1 (Left to Right): Tom Koch, Dean, Wyant College; Jim Oschmann, President, SPIE; and Kent Rochford, CEO, SPIE. (Photo by SPIE)

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

The University of Arizona James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences (OSC) has been shaping the future since 1964 by offering first-rate instruction, cutting-edge research and a solid commitment to the development of the optics industry. OSC remains dedicated to providing the industry with an internationally pre-eminent program in all aspects of the study of light.  For more information, please visit www.optics.arizona.edu.


Kaye Rowan, Senior Director of Development University of Arizona
James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences