James C. Wyant gifts $10M for UA graduate student scholarships

Feb. 11, 2014
Tucson, AZ--The University of Arizona's College of Optical Sciences has received a $10 million gift for graduate student scholarships from Professor Emeritus James C. Wyant.

IMAGE:James C. Wyant with Maria Ruiz, a first-year graduate student at the College of Optical Sciences. She is the current recipient of the Louise Wyant Memorial Scholarship in Optical Sciences. (Image credit: UA College of Optical Sciences)

Tucson, AZ--Setting a new precedent as the largest gift towards any scholarship in its history, the University of Arizona's (UA's) College of Optical Sciences has received a $10 million gift for graduate student scholarships. Professor Emeritus, James C. Wyant--who is well-known throughout the optics industry for his academic and professional society leadership, profound expertise, and establishment of several commercial enterprises--made this gift in celebration of the college's 50th anniversary.

"Jim Wyant's leadership has been remarkable, and the College of Optical Sciences is a major point of pride for the University of Arizona," said UA president Ann Weaver Hart. "Jim's gift provides fantastic opportunities for our students to excel in their studies and to conduct the kind of ground-breaking research that is certain to impact all of our lives."

Since 1964, the College of Optical Sciences has grown as a center of innovation and interdisciplinary research. It is now the largest and most diverse academic optics education and research program in the nation. It is also an abundant producer of patents and licenses, bringing in half of the UA’s patents from 2012 to 2013.

"The College has shaped the field of optics with advances in imaging systems for scientific, medical, industrial and defense applications, and research increasing the speed of the Internet, improving technologies for solar energy, and innovating better ways to detect and diagnose cancer." said Thomas L. Koch, dean for the College of Optical Sciences. "Discoveries in optics not only provide cutting-edge tools for the laboratory, but also influence the creation of everyday products."

Wyant's scholarship gift will help the college to attract the top talent in the nation by providing for a dramatically enriched education and research experience for entering graduate students. According to Koch, this talent is key to producing tomorrow's leaders, and to further accelerating the College's and UA's leadership in the field. To increase the impact of his gift, Wyant structured the commitment as a 4:1 matching gift offer on donations made to endowments known as FoTO (Friends of Tucson Optics) endowed scholarships.

While contributions at any level to the FoTO scholarship general fund will be matched, single donors, or a group of donors, making a $100,000 gift--either outright or over a one-to-four year pledge plan--to establish a new scholarship endowment will get a $400,000 match from Wyant and have the privilege to name their scholarship. Thirteen FoTO scholarship endowments have been already established by generous supporters of the college as a result of Wyant’s multimillion dollar gift.

Wyant is a pioneer in the field and today is often called upon by many companies, universities, and professional societies throughout the world. He co-founded several businesses, including the WYKO Corporation and Tucson’s 4D Technology Corporation, where he continues to serve as chairman. Wyant arrived to the university as a professor in optical sciences in 1974. In 1999, he was named director of what was then the Optical Sciences Center and became the founding dean when the center became a college in 2005.

During his tenure as dean, he oversaw tremendous growth in research as well as the expansion of the Meinel Optical Sciences Building, which added 47,000 square-feet of state-of-the-art teaching and research space. He stepped down in 2012 but continues teaching as a professor emeritus.

For more information about giving to the College of Optical Sciences and the FoTO (Friends of Tucson Optics) scholarships, please contact Kaye Rowan at (520) 626-8754 or [email protected].

SOURCE: UA College of Optical Sciences; http://www.optics.arizona.edu/news-events/news/press-releases/college-optical-sciences-receives-10-million-largest-gift-scholarshi

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