New SPIE Scholarship

Education scholarship will honor Joe and Agnete Yaver.

01 April 2017

A group of SPIE past presidents and other active Society members have begun raising funds for a new SPIE educational scholarship that will enable an SPIE member or an SPIE employee to attain an advanced business degree for managing an organization involved with optics and photonics research and technology.

Chuck DeMund, the SPIE president in 1973 and 1974, is leading the fundraising effort for the scholarship, to honor Joe and Agnete (Anita) Yaver. Joe Yaver, who died in November 2016, was the visionary executive director of SPIE from November 1969 until 1993. Agnete Yaver worked alongside her husband in building the foundation for SPIE’s current multidisciplinary, international scope and advancing its mission.

The group has a goal of raising $125,000 US, which SPIE would match, to create a $250,000 scholarship endowment that could offer a $10,000 scholarship annually.

“SPIE exists today because Joe and Agnete Yaver steered our seriously struggling organization to both technical and financial success,” DeMund said. “Joe was the entrepreneur who — learning as he went along — was able to convince technical, educational, and industrial leaders to join in SPIE’s efforts to spread knowledge of the magnitude and value of the rapidly developing optics field. He also assembled a world-class staff, many of whom are still with us.”

DeMund’s efforts at establishing the scholarship have already resulted in the collection of nearly 70% of the $125,000 goal. He is available to answer questions about the scholarship at

The scholarship is intended for those seeking an advanced degree that provides “the business knowledge required to facilitate the advancement and application of optics and photonics research and technology.” The scholarship would be restricted to those SPIE members and staff seeking an advanced degree from an accredited organizational management program, such as those awarding master’s degrees in non-profit management, business administration (MBA), and technology management (MSTM).

Although Yaver did not have such a degree, he nonetheless achieved tremendous success for SPIE and its educational mission to advance light-based science, engineering, and technology.

His accomplishments include launching the OE/LASE symposium in Los Angeles, CA (USA), the precursor of SPIE Photonics West, and the Technical Symposium Southeast in Orlando, FL (USA), the forerunner to SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing.

Yaver also increased the scope and reputation of the Proceedings of SPIE, the foundation of today’s SPIE Digital Library, in support of the Society’s goal to provide the latest optics and photonics developments to the largest number of people.

Under his leadership, the Society’s US headquarters moved from Los Angeles, CA, to Bellingham, WA, in 1977, and membership grew from 1200 in 1969 to 12,000 in 1993. The staff to manage events, publications, courses, and other activities also increased.

Andy Tescher, SPIE president in 1981, noted that, in addition to and more importantly than being “multitalented, dedicated, and a visionary (which would be an understatement), Joe was the right person at the right time for the Society. His talents were closely attuned to SPIE’s need at its critical growth period.”

The Yaver scholarship will become one of several named SPIE scholarships that are funded by companies and individuals who partner with SPIE to serve its non-profit educational mission.

Tax-deductible donations, marked for the Yaver Scholarship Fund, may be sent to the attention of Brad Ferguson at P.O. Box 10, Bellingham, WA 98227-0010.


There will also be a gathering at SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego, CA (USA), to celebrate the life of Joe Yaver. Friends and relatives will reflect on his inspiration as a leader and his many contributions to SPIE. The event will be at 3 pm, 7 August. See the Optics + Photonics special events page on

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