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James C. Wyant, founding dean of the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences, has been taken up on his offer to add $1.5 million to gifts of $500,000 to create an endowed chair in the donor's name.

Renowned optical scientist Joseph W. "Joe" Goodman and his wife, Honmai, have donated $500,000, which will be used to create the J.W. and H.M. Goodman Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences. The gift was announced Tuesday during a reception held in San Francisco for College of Optical Sciences alumni and corporate partners.

"Endowed chairs are among the most generous and critical gifts in higher education and serve as vital support of academic excellence," said Thomas L. Koch, the college's dean.

Wyant and his family pledged $20 million in November to establish the Distinguished Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences Fund, which will be used to help the college recruit a minimum of 10 stellar faculty. It is the largest gift for endowed faculty chair positions in the university's history.  

To further the impact of the gift, Wyant said that if a donor or group of donors offered $500,000 toward a chair, he would add $1.5 million from the fund to create a chair bearing the name of the donor or donors, or a name of their choosing.

Joe Goodman retired from Stanford University in 2001 after serving there nearly 40 years. Among the positions he held were chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and senior associate dean for faculty and academic affairs for the School of Engineering.

He said that he and his wife established the endowed chair in their names to support faculty who are committed to taking discoveries in optics to new heights.

"It's hard to overstate the importance of an endowed faculty chair," said Goodman, who was the William E. Ayer Professor of Electrical Engineering while at Stanford. "Honmai and I know firsthand the impact the College of Optical Sciences has on the emerging new leaders in optics – and are grateful for the opportunity to support a faculty member who will teach future generations of leaders to excel."

Goodman has been recognized for fundamental contributions in the fields of Fourier optics and optical information processing through his research, teaching and textbooks.

Koch also announced that Wyant has designated $2 million for a chair that will be named after Professor Emeritus Robert R. Shannon, who came to the UA in 1969. He was appointed director of what was then the UA Optical Sciences Center in 1984 and served in that role until 1992.

Wyant, who joined the UA in 1974, had previously worked with Shannon at a company called Itek Corp. Wyant was named director of the Optical Sciences Center in 1999. He became the founding dean when the center transitioned into a college in 2005.

"To me, this endowed chair is a fitting tribute to Bob, who has been a wonderful mentor to me for more than 50 years," Wyant said. "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."

Shannon stressed that faculty play an important role in 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," he said.

Having Shannon's and Goodman's names on the chairs also will have a significant impact, Koch said.

"Having these two new endowed chairs named after giants in the field will attract the exceptional faculty we need to advance our teaching and research mission into exciting new areas of optics and photonics," he said. "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."

Labels: University of Arizona,Goodman,optical sciences,endowed chair,optics,education

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