An endowed distinguished professorship at The University of Texas at Arlington will honor Fort Worth physicist and businessman Richard N. Claytor while strengthening the University's cutting edge optics-related research. The professorship will be funded by a $500,000 endowment established through a philanthropic gift from Nelson E. Claytor, Richard Claytor's son. The elder Claytor, who has a PhD in physics and holds 28 U.S. patents, founded Fresnel Technologies Inc., a leading manufacturer of molded plastic lenses and related optical components based in Fort Worth, and now serves as vice president of the company. Optics research has led to advancements in a wide variety of fields, from medical imaging to fiber optic communications.
The long term relationship between the Claytors and UTA began with a collaboration between Richard Claytor and UTA Professor Truman Black, a physics professor who had a significant role in research that helped UTA start down the path towards becoming a major research university. "The younger Claytor, now the president of the company, has been an advisor to the college for many years and is cementing the bond with UTA through this generous gift," said Physics Chair Alex Weiss.
The gift is anticipated to help UT Arlington recruit a faculty member to lead optics research within the College of Science and is expected to impact the future of the optics industry and economic development in North Texas for generations to come. The new distinguished professor in physics will join the UT Arlington faculty from one or more of the many disciplines already engaged in innovations in the optics field. "Our hope is that this commitment leads to more and more visible support for optics in this region," said Nelson Claytor, Fresnel Technologies president. "Where there are strong networks of companies in a technology such as optics there are also strong universities. There's interaction between industry and the professors, and there are students coming out of the program that want to be hired locally."