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Wyant honored on retirement from College of Optical Sciences

18 January 2012

James WyantThe University of Arizona (UA) College of Optical Sciences recognized the leadership of SPIE Past President Jim Wyant (right) during a celebration of his retirement as dean of the College of Optical Sciences on 17 January.

Numerous guest speakers, friends and colleagues highlighted Wyant's achievements. The group included SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs, SPIE President and UA professor Eustace Dereniak and Wyant's successor as dean, Thomas L. Koch. Also attending were UA president Eugene Sander and past president Peter Likins.

Likins praised Wyant as a "switch-hitter" - someone who is equally comfortable in the worlds of academics and industry. Despite his gentle personality, he is a strong leader, Likins said, who is credited with a major role in building the university's former Optical Sciences Center into the College of Optical Sciences. Wyant served as director, then dean, from 1999 through 2011.

Arthurs expanded on that theme in his talk, saying that Wyant, a former track star, brings his competitive instincts to any role he takes on, translating the value of scientific research into societal benefits and profitable industrial applications. Yet he is someone who "walks the talk," Arthurs said, and who is willing to share his knowledge broadly. Wyant still gives visiting lectures and short courses around the world; his next one will take place in just a few days at SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco.

James Wyant, Eustace DereniakJames Wyant with autographed Arizona Wildcats basketball
Jim Wyant chats with fellow UA professor and SPIE President Eustace Dereniak at Wyant's retirement party. At right, he shows off the ball autographed by the Arizona Wildcats team.

Wyant received numerous gifts during the celebration including a hologram inscribed with "James C. Wyant, Optical Pioneer." Sean Miller, University of Arizona basketball coach, gave him a basketball signed by the team, to recognize Wyant as an avid Wildcats basketball fan. In fact, legendary retired UA coach Lute Olson was also in attendance. Olson led the team to 11 Pac-10 championships and one national championship in 24 seasons at Arizona.

Among his many awards, Wyant received the SPIE Gold Medal in 2003. He is also a Fellow of SPIE and served on the Board of Governors (now Board of Directors) for six years. He has been a member of SPIE for 40 years.

In industry, he co-founded WYKO, 4D Technology and DMetric. He served as president of WYKO from 1984 to 1997.