A Tribute to James C. Wyant

Image
Wyant Tribute

A Tribute to James C. Wyant

Back in 1973-74 when I was a second-year graduate student, I was working on a holographic interferometry project for measuring the deformation of a thin shell mirror and backing structure that was a concept for an active optics telescope system. Prof. Shannon told me that he would be bringing around a visitor who knew holography and was interested in the project. During his visit, the visitor patiently explained how I should image the mirror’s surface onto the holographic plate, effectively making the holoplate the exit pupil of the optical system—he then worked with me to set it up. Later, Prof. Shannon asked me how it all went. Of course, I told him how thrilled I was with the kind, wonderful help I had received. Little did I know at the time that I was part of Jim Wyant’s job interview. I would like to claim that my interaction with Jim was pivotal in getting him hired at Optical Sciences, but of course, he must have already been a shoo-in for the faculty position. When Jim showed up at Optical Sciences, I became one of his first PhD students, learning more about interferometry and other aspects of optics through my research under him. That lesson about imaging the exit pupil was just one of the many useful concepts I learned from Jim that I employed many times during my own career. Knowing Jim for nearly 50 years has been too short of a time. Richard Shagam, PhD, OSC 1980, Sandia National Laboratories (Retired)
Jim was my best friend while we were at Case. We were both physics majors and we were on the track team together. I was always amazed at all the things Jim did, and did well. While getting good grades as a physics major and being on the track and cross-country teams he also ran a farm! In addition, he somehow had time for his ham radio hobby. Jim loved pie! Jim ate two slices every day, one for lunch and one for dinner. In spite of all the running he did on the cross country and track teams he developed a slight pot belly! I used to poke him in the stomach with my finger and tell him that if he didn’t eat pie all the time he might go to the Olympics! Our coach, Bill Sudeck, thought that was hilarious! Wayne T Armbrust, Computomarx
I was the associate director of the Optical Sciences Center when Jim was hired to be the Director as Dick Powell’s successor. I was a member of the search committee tasked with finding the next director, and what happened with that search gives an indication of Jim’s reputation even before he became the Director. Read more from Richard L. Shoemaker below...

I was the associate director of the Optical Sciences Center when Jim was hired to be the Director as Dick Powell’s successor. I was a member of the search committee tasked with finding the next director, and what happened with that search gives an indication of Jim’s reputation even before he became the Director. We were in the middle of looking at resumes to pick a couple of the best candidates to come for interiews when we heard that Jim was interested in applying for the position. Jim’s reputation in teaching and research was such that the committee unanimously voted to stop the search and ask the UA president to hire Jim without considering any other candidates. I was fortunate enough to work with Jim during his entire time as Director and later Dean. As Associate Director/Dean I was in charge of Optical Science’s Academic Programs, and his effect on our academic programs was truly transformational. Jim’s most significant contribution was to convince the UA to change Optical Sciences from a Center to a college. Throughout its early history, Optical Sciences had to resist continued efforts from the College of Science and the College of Engineering to absorb OSC into their Colleges because we had outstanding faculty in both quantum physics and optical engineering, including having 3 Nobel Laureates in Physics on our faculty. Jim solved that problem once and for all by convincing the Administration to make Optical Sciences a college. Becoming a college gave us vastly more standing within the university as we were then treated as equals with the College of Science and the College of Engineering. It also transformed our academic programs. When Jim became the director, we did not have our own undergraduate program. Instead, we taught undergraduate courses in optical engineering as part of a joint program with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Although this degree program was administered by Optical Sciences, it had to be called a B.S. in Optics, even it was and is an engineering program. Jim and I successfully worked with the College of Engineering to get ABET accreditation for it, so that we now offer a fully accredited B.S. in Optical Engineering which has been very successful. When Jim became the Director, distance learning was becoming increasingly important. We were teaching a few distance courses across campus in the Harvill building. Jim strongly supported distance learning and when the West Wing of Optical Sciences was constructed, he made sure that the 2 new classrooms there were fully equipped with state-of-the-art video recording and internet broadcasting facilities. This has provided a huge boost to our M.S. students who were already working in industry and could not take 2 years away from their work to attend classes. As Associate Director, I oversaw graduate student recruitment. This was always very difficult because when Jim came in as Director, we had only a couple of scholarships available, and could only offer the best applicants a one-year teaching assistantship, while other universities could often offer much better financial support. Jim solved this problem by creating the FoTO (Friends of Tucson Optics) endowed scholarships with his unbelievably generous 4-to-1 matching offer to potential scholarship donors. Finally, Jim was very supportive of our Academic programs and teaching curriculum in general, and provided the Academic Office with the personnel and computer equipment to take its operation from a paper-based operation to a fully- computer-based operation. Richard L. Shoemaker, Professor Emeritus of Optical Sciences, Chemistry, and Radiology

Professor James C. Wyant made profound impacts on many people as a stellar scholar, an educator, a mentor, a collaborator, a master entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and a friend. Though I never had the privilege to take Jim's courses, Jim influenced my professional career development as the Director and then the founding Dean of the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences. Without Prof. Wyant’s influence, most of my research in optical technologies for wearable displays would not have happened and I would be living in a very different world. Beyond being one of the finest optical metrologists, Jim was a technology futurist and was interested in all kinds of technologies. Twenty years ago, when virtual reality and augmented reality (VR-AR) technologies were hardly known in both the academic and industry worlds except few groups who worked in the subject matter, Professor Wyant foresaw the potential and hired me as a faculty to grow a seed. Back then I was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Hawaii (UH) at Mānoa. Jim hired several other faculties in related areas in the following years. Nowadays, VR-AR technologies are very hot topics and attract billions of dollars of investment by all the major technology giants. Optics plays a central role in wearable display technologies for VR-AR applications, and thus naturally our students have become a major source of work force hired by these technology companies who have invested in this field. His futuristic vision and investment not only paved the way for my career path, but also had a major influence on our faculty and student body. Jim made many contributions to our optics community and made powerful influences on many individuals’ lives and careers. No words are enough for expressing our gratitude, but let me try anyway: “Thank you, Jim, from the bottom of our hearts.” Optics community, your students, and your colleagues will remember you forever as stellar scholar, an educator, a mentor, a collaborator, a master entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and a friend. Hong Hua, Professor, Wyant College of Optica Sciences
Please accept our condolences. I received a PhD in Optical Sciences in 1979. I was the first student Jim Wyant ever took after he joined the institute, that is now called “Wyant College of Optical Sciences.” Jim has been my mentor and one gold standard I relied on. I feel the departure of the giant this time is shaking my mentality and is leaving colossal gape in my soul. I will dearly miss him. A few years ago, my wife Tomoko and I visited him in his office and had a get-together in a restaurant in the evening. We talked about Albert Michelson while he was working in Naval academy in Annapolis and Case Western later where Jim attended, although there was no overlap of two individuals in time. Then I told Jim that I was working on one paper. When it is finished, I would like it to be reviewed by him before submitting it for publication. I wondered if he could kindly do so. His answer was that he would love to do so. That was a very pleasant evening. I am afraid that opportunity is muddled away now. I have learned many things from Jim besides interferometry and metrology. Our car carries a Pennsylvania license plate on the rear bumper that reads “LITE LIT”. It means that darkness is not only the constituent of this world. Courageous individual like Jim could cherish his dream and send a message on the bright light of beacon saying, “It is possible to exceed your wildest dream.” Thank you, Jim. I will keep the license for the rest of my life. Nobuhiko (Poohsan) Tamura, Optomation, Inc.
When a student, I appreciated Dean Wyant racing me up the stairwells at Meinel. Fun and spontaneous. The educational content Wyant gathered and championed, including in guest lectures, is a frequent reference all across optics. Going from OSC to COS has helped touch a lot of lives, and a lot of work. It felt really good to see him at a small conference in Portugal, a friendly and familiar face always. Brian Myer, Optimax
Dr. Wyant, We all in this college, owe you a debt of gratitude in countless ways. Your impact on this community is truly remarkable and enduring. Despite never having had the opportunity to meet you in person, I've always sensed your presence over the years. Thank you for all you've done for us...and rest in peace, sir. Arya Fatehi, Wyant College of Optical Sciences
Jim was always so kind to me. I never had a chance to take a class from him, but I did have several notable memories with him. Of the many building tours I helped give of OSC, a tour I lead for some friends of his stands out to me. I usually began my tours in the 3rd floor lobby, and would give some history of OSC as I did. I felt quite intimidated to do so in his presence! Walking past the scholarship placards that he established (and that I personally benefitted from) with him really gave me a sense of the impact this man had both on OSC as a community and on our field as a whole. During the tour, I commented to him that I had noticed his "Say NO" sign on the wall of his office behind his computer screens, since my lab was on the same floor as his office. I told him how it helped me to know that someone as successful as himself had struggled with saying no and needed to remind himself to do so. He laughed and said, "Oh, it never helps." I am grateful to have been touched by Dr. Wyant's incredible life and career. His life inspires me to always give back to my community through service and through supporting younger engineers like he did. Thank you, Dr. Wyant, for all you did for OSC. You've made an incredible impact on all of us. Benjamin Cromey, Ball Aerospace

Prof. Wyant's enthusiasm for optics education left a lasting impact on the Department of Optics and Photonics, National Central University in Taiwan. When our undergraduate program was established in 2006, Prof. Wyant provided significant support for the student exchange program between OSC and our department. Since the signing of the International Memorandum of Agreement in 2008, many students from both sides have benefited from this exchange program. Remarkably, some students from our department have chosen to further their education by pursuing master's or PhD degrees at OSC after completing the exchange program.

Furthermore, Prof. Wyant visited our department in 2008 and 2013, delivering plenary talks at ODF’08 (6th International Conference on Optics-photonics Design & Fabrication) and OPTIC 2013 (Optics & Photonics Taiwan International Conference), both organized by our department. His presentations on precision optical testing in non-ideal environments were very inspiring to the audience and our faculty members. During his visits, Prof. Wyant generously shared his extensive experiences in optics education and research with our undergraduate students, contributing significantly to their knowledge and motivation. We heartily appreciate his valuable support and insights, which have played a pivotal role in advancing optics education at our institution.

A commemorative article in Chinese has been published on our department's website to share the memories we cherish with Prof. Wyant. All faculty members of DOP, Department of Optics and Photonics (DOP), National Central University, Taiwan

I am very grateful for Jim Wyant’s influence on my professional career. I have known Jim since my OSC doctoral work over 30 years ago. After graduation Jim asked me to work for his WYKO, which solidified interferometry as my professional disciplinary specialization. I now work for Jim’s “second” company, 4D Technology, a company that also builds interferometers. I have collaborated with Jim on many papers and book chapters, and I feel very honored and privileged to have my name next to his on these publications. Jim, often seen as a reserved guy, was also funny and unpretentious; he jokingly called me his grand student, as I was a grad student of his grad student Kathy Creath. He would comment that I had the best dissertation defense he was ever at; then he would smile and talk about how delicious the food my mother, who flew in from Poland, had prepared for the defense. He loved Polish food both here and when he visited in Warsaw. At a conference in Poland, in the mid-nineties, he did not hesitate to take the tramway to my parent’s apartment for some simple tomato soup and pierogi. Jim is known for the many things he has done for optics community, but not many may know that in the close-knit, interferometry community, Jim also had highest reputation and was inducted into the International Order of Holoknights – the brotherhood to which members are selected not only for their technical leadership but also for their hospitality, openness, and assistance to others. Jim had all of these. I will miss Jim, his advice, his kindness and his humor.  Joanna Schmit, PhD, Principal Optical Engineer, 4D Technology, Tucson
Jim was a very nice [that is the only word I can think of] Professor for classes, and as a dissertation mentor. His Start up business with his grad student Chris Koliopas, that was Wyko, has done a great deal for the Optical science community. Dr. Ralph Jameson, Syzygy West
Jim was a man of integrity who held himself and others to high standards. In Jim's quiet and driven ways he successfully achieved his goals. It seems he would accomplish anything he set his mind to, somehow remaining humble and kind as he tackled countless endeavors building his career. Not only was Jim an entrepreneur, he was applauded as professor, researcher, inventor and leader. In his free time he enjoyed traveling the world, living an active lifestyle, and can you believe was a ham radio enthusiast, above it all Jim was a caring and supportive husband, father and friend. Jim instilled confidence and strength, he motivated me to believe in myself and aspire to achieve my personal goals. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to know and witness Jim's many accomplishments, he was truly inspiring. I will forever hold Jim dear to my heart, respect and admire him. I miss you already Jim. Rest in peace. Luz Palomarez, Friend & Former Employee
It was CIRCA 1970, and my friend Paul Remijan from ITEK in Boston had a favor to ask me. He wanted me to pick up this guy-Jim from the Tucson airport and take him to his hotel. Jim worked with Paul. I decided to take Jim to a local tavern for dinner and a few beers, hoping to show him some Southwest cultures. He agreed to join me, but only ordered one glass of beer and barely drank any of it, while I finished mine and got another. By the time we left, his glass was still three-quarters full. I felt like a lush, accustomed as I was to being surrounded by thirsty graduate students who would have jumped at the chance for a free drink. Jim just smiled and thanked me for the hospitality. He was a class act! Eustace Dereniak, Professor Emeritus, Wyant College of Optical Sciences
It is hard to find the words to describe what a loss to everyone who had the privilege of working with Dr. Wyant. He was one of the last to visit with my late husband, Jack Gaskill. They were good friends for many years. Jack and I were very grateful when Jim honored Jack with the graduate scholarship, along with his major donation to Optical Sciences. He was indeed brilliant and generous. A little humor-Jack once received a Christmas card from Jim with postage due, and Jack jokingly said "the C in Jim's middle name is for "cheap"." My condolences to Tammy and Clair and it was a privilege to have known him as a friend too. Sandra Gaskill

Jim was an internationally acclaimed scholar and entrepreneur, leaving an indelible mark on the optics and photonics community. His remarkable career spanned numerous achievements, showcasing excellence in various dimensions. Beyond his professional prowess, he will be fondly remembered for his compassionate and unassuming nature, positively impacting countless lives through acts of kindness, service, and unwavering generosity. Personally, Jim played a pivotal role in my life by giving me the opportunity to join the OSC faculty in 1998—an invaluable highlight in my career that remains etched in my memory. As we bid farewell, Jim leaves behind an extraordinary legacy that will be dearly missed. My deepest condolences extend to his friends and family. Bernard Kippelen, Vice-Provost for Internatiinal Initiatives, Georgia Institute of Technology

I'll always be grateful that I knew Jim, he was a great teacher, and never too busy to help or listen. Once, when I was a grad student, he let me babble on for an hour about the many things that were on my mind, never interrupting me. I'm sure he had better things to do, but could tell I needed to talk to someone. He was one-of-a-kind. My best to his family. Eric Fest, Meta Platforms, Inc.

It is with great sorrow that I learnt of Dr. Wyant's passing. Jim, as he was known even to his students, was a huge influence on my professional life. I first met him in 2001 and took several of his courses as a PhD student. He embodied all the qualities of a teacher and mentor. Even though he was such a busy person, he always made time for students and his office door was always open. He was forever cheerful and optimistic, and his jokes both in class and outside were disarming. To this day I use his notes on optical metrology and interferometry, and as a college professor myself, I try to pass on whatever I've learnt from Jim to my own students. It's a tall order, but an aspiration. His contribution to the field of optics is immense and not enough can be said about this, but to me he was an exceptional mentor, teacher, and human being. I'll never forget him. Proteep Mallik, Azim Premji University, India

I owe the greater part of my career to Jim. He was instrumental in my coming to Optical Sciences in 1976 to be the optical shop manager. We first met in a math/physics class at the University of Rochester in 1966 and shared offices across the hall at Itek in 1974. I remember from that time his insight leading to the paper he and Al McGovern published on using CGHs to test aspheres although the technology did not exist at the time to make the holograms. The optics community has lost a great mentor in every sense of the word. Robert Parks, Optical Perspectives Group, LLC

I spent the summer of 1978 at Los Alamos Labs trying to understand (and making no progress) “four-wave mixing.” That fall, in Jim’s Holography class, he made an off-hand statement that “four-wave mixing is just a diffraction grating.” After going to many talks, reading many papers, and talking with several staff members at Los Alamos, something I thought was extremely hard and profound was made simple. That’s when the little internal bell rang and said, “You have to work for Wyant!” Jim was a terrific PhD advisor. He knew when to leave students alone to let them figure things out and when to step in if they needed help. He was also a great problem solver; he knew what was important and was clear about how to get there. And he was so modest. It only occurred to me much later in life that Jim’s problem-solving ability was not limited to technical issues; it included people, organizations, and institutional issues. I finished my PhD in January 1982. I’m unsure if I would have made it through Optical Sciences without his support. Elliot Eichen (PhD, 1982), Research Professor, Computer Science Department, University of Colorado Boulder

God noticed this fellow Jim Wyant working smartly and fully dedicated to his work, and said well, I am going to give this good fellow some substantial money and I want to see what he does with it. So when Jim got the money send to him by God, Jim gave it away to people. God in noticing this generosity said, well, well…OK I am going to give him even more substantial money and see what he does with it. When Jim received this more money, he was even more generous and gave it away too. God was pleased about fellow Jim Wyant and said, well what can I give to good fellow Jim Wyant? And God said, OK I am going to give him the honor of naming the College of Optical Sciences after him. On asking Jim about whether he would give up his name on the college, he responded, no this time I keep it. Jim Wyant proves that the more you give, the more you get. He supported and believed in people. Now in heaven he smiles and says, I hope those fellows at the Wyant College of Optical Sciences, populate Tucson with many more optics companies. José Sasián, Professor, Wyant College of Optical Sciences

I have been a PhD student at the Optical Sciences Center since 1996. My former Japanese supervisor during my Master's degree, Prof. Heihachi Sato of the National Defense Academy of Japan, recommended that I study at the OSC as it was the best place for optics and photonics research. I heard from Prof. Sato that Jim stayed at Prof. Sato's house in Yokosuka, Kanagawa, and taught a course on 'Wave Optics' at the National Defense Academy of Japan for a week. I attended Jim's Wave Optics course at OSC and had the opportunity to visit WYKO as part of the course. I was impressed by the fact that he ran his own company while teaching at OSC. We were given the WYKO Mag Cup, which I still keep as a treasured memory. It was really motivating because it showed that a university professor could start a company, which seemed like the American dream to me. I now teach optics in Japan and my former student in Japan is now a PhD student at OSC. I continue to be motivated by the belief that research in optics and photonics is closely linked to industrial contributions. Yasufumi Enami, PhD, 2003

Don Herriott, who hired me at Bell Labs, and Bob Shannon at the University of Arizona were close colleagues in the field of optics.  They both had delightful and aligned senses of humor.  It was through them that I first met Jim Wyant.

Jim was a humble giant, a tireless and gifted teacher and researcher at the University of Arizona.  We got to know each other through overlapping interests and various optics conferences.  In our later years, we grew closer through our respective second spouses as well.  I will miss his inspiring humility and his overwhelming contributions in the field of optics generally, and to the Rochester and Tucson regions in particular.  Jim Wyant leaves a powerful and enduring international legacy in the field of Optics.  John H. Bruning, retired CEO, Corning Tropel Corp.

Jim Wyant’s inspirations run through me - a teacher, entrepreneur, transformer of OpSci into an even-greater institution, philanthropist, and more. All permeated by Jim’s wit and humor, my fave being his statement “Everything is an interferometer.” Decades ago, in his class, a fellow student challenged “What about a pumpkin?”; Jim quipped that light beams incident upon a pumpkin’s surface, form fringes and yield information on the beams and surface… thus, an interferometer. That stuck in my mind. Gradually, I compared it to quantum states and probability distributions, and with a broad interpretive brush, could say that what we call existence is a result of constructive interference, and thus everything actually is an interferometer. Thank you Jim, for my being a better person than I’d be without you. Surely, many share that sentiment. Jack Jewell, PhD, 1984

I took Jim’s Optical Testing class in 2002 and worked as his lab TA in 2003. The workload as a TA for the 513 Lab was truly overwhelming; I spent almost every day, all day long, in lab 101 preparing and teaching. However, those enduring days were when I acquired most of my lifetime skills and knowledge in optical testing from Jim. He also served as one of my dissertation committee members. After the dissertation defense, he went above and beyond, writing a recommendation letter for my current professor position at National Central University, Taiwan. I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't met Jim 20 years ago. Thank you, Jim! Chao-Wen Liang, Professor, National Central University
Jim Wyant was an important supporter of optics, not only in Tucson and Rochester, but also in Montana. He helped sustain one of our early companies through a difficult period and he has given of his time on behalf of our faculty and students throughout the years. My heartfelt feelings go out to Tammy and Jim's whole family. He is a wonderful colleague and I will miss him dearly. Joseph Shaw, Professor, Montana State University
 

Jim had a real knack for seeing the potential in people that they might not have seen in themselves. He allowed me to play a meaningful role in the College as well as in individual people's lives through technology transfer. While it was a bit of a bumpy start, it ended up being the best job I ever had, largely due to his example and his gentle guidance. And none of that would have happened if it hadn't been for Jim asking me to apply for the job. The singular thing that stands out in my mind was a piece of advice he gave me, and it was the best advice I ever received. I was still trying to get my bearings on the job. In his classic quiet way, he said simply, "Be more confident." Those three words helped me more than any of the tech transfer tutorials I attended. And those words apply to everything, not just that particular job. I am forever grateful for Jim's wisdom and friendship, and for allowing me to be a part of the world-class optics family that he guided so well. Amy Phillips, Sr. Licensing Manager, Retired; M.S. 1985; Wyant College of Optical Sciences

"I had a wonderful experience as a student in the 70’s working for OSC faculty when it was quite new. When we founded CREOL in the late 80’s, we used OSC as our model. Later, when I assumed the leadership position at CREOL, I visited OSC on several occasions when Jim was director. My primary goal was finding out as much as I could about OSC’s governance, so I picked Jim’s brain! This is when I got to know him well. He was extremely gracious and remarkably helpful, and I learned a lot about his vision and goals. I think we both viewed ourselves as collaborators in advancing optics/photonics research and education. But his sharing his academic, industrial, and entrepreneurial experience was invaluable. His mentorship helped us to create The College of Optics and Photonics, making me its founding dean in 2004. In 2005 Jim became the Founding Dean of the College of Optical Sciences. This was important for both of us since that put us at the table where university decisions are made. As past presidents of Optica, we met on many occasions at its leadership conference and continued to exchange information. Jim’s work in advancing optics education and research is truly amazing, and his multiple legacies will remain forever. His philanthropy is inspiring many more of us." Eric W. Van Stryland, Emeritus Dean and Professor, CREOL, The College of Optics and Photonics, University of Central Florida
"When I came to UA as head of the Optical Science Center, Jim was running WYCO full time and working as a part time professor at OSC. We immediately became good friends and he was helpful in getting me involved with the optical community in Tucson. He was a great mentor and advisor for everything we did at OSC. The timing was perfect when I was asked to be Vice President for Research and Graduate Education, the provost was concerned about having a national search to replace me as head of OSC. However, Jim had just returned as a full time faculty member at OSC and was perfect for the job. Luckily he was interested in taking over. Jim and I worked together on many issues like the state’s tax-incriment financing project for optics, the new wing on the Minel building, and OSA past president’s projects. He had the perfect intelect and personality needed to be an outstanding leader. He will be greatly missed by the entire optics community in this country." Richard C. Powell, Emeritus Vice President and Professor of Optics, University of Arizona

“Jim allowed me to audit his Optical Testing class when I was a visiting student in 2005. He wrote me a recommendation letter for my application to the Optical Sciences Ph.D. program in 2006. In 2009, as the Dean of the College, he attended my Ph.D. graduation ceremony and hooded me. Since 2017, he has allowed me to teach his Optical Testing course. In 2021, he permitted me to continue his SPIE conference Short Courses. He gave me so much when there was nothing that I could give back to him. There are many others like me who have benefited from his generosity, care, and love. In remembrance of him, I will pass on what he gave me to our students. Jim, I miss your 8 o'clock morning class, your smile, and your voice talking about upcoming UArizona sports games. Please remember that your students loved you.” Daewook Kim, Associate Professor, Wyant College of Optical Sciences

“Dr. Wyant was an inspiring leader and I am honored to have received my degree while Dr. Wyant was the dean of the OSC. His passion in Optics and OSC will be remembered forever. Thank you Dr. Wyant. Sending my warm regards to his family from Korea.” Garam Young, Samsung Research, Samsung Electronics Co.

“Prof. Wyant's legacy echoes through the careers he shaped and the countless PhD students, including myself, whose paths were illuminated by his generosity. His unwavering support, both financial and personal, not only funded many scholarships but also fostered an environment of learning and growth. His welcoming nature and dedication to education will forever be cherished, leaving an indelible mark on the academic community. He will be remembered as more than a great professor; he was a guiding force and a philanthropic beacon.” Amit Kumar Jha, PhD Student, Wyant College of Optical Sciences

“I admired Jim greatly. He was Director and then Dean of Optical Sciences during my work as a faculty member. He was instrumental in so many ways as a businessman, as a leader in the academic community, and as a philanthropic investor with a vision for the future of optics education and research. He will be missed, but his legacy will live on for decades to come.” Tom D. Milster, Professor, Wyant College of Optical Sciences

“Jim was a giant in the field of optical sciences. His vision and leadership dating back to the college's early years set the stage for what has become a world-renowned engine of innovation and knowledge transfer, as well as an essential training ground for the best and brightest students. Sometimes he would credit his success to luck – I believe the University of Arizona was lucky he chose to build his career here, and to leave a legacy that will ensure the college's success for generations to come."  Robert C. Robbins, University of Arizona President
“Jim’s commitment to the success of the college and to the field of optics was nothing short of astonishing. His academic leadership and philanthropic investments ensured that we would continue to grow, and recruit and support the best students and faculty – attracting the top people from around the world to make advances in optics that will improve our lives in unimaginable ways. To me, Jim was a mentor and a friend – and I will miss him deeply." Thomas L. Koch, Dean and Professor, Wyant College of Optical Sciences
“I took classes from Jim. He was my Ph.D. advisor, my boss, my business partner, my mentor and ultimately my friend. We spent over 40 years working together (at WYKO and collaborated in the establishment of 4-D Technology) … and looking back, I realize that no one influenced the course of my adult life more or set higher standards for me than Jim Wyant.” John Hayes, Ph.D., 1984