Endowed Professorship is No Optical Illusion

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A new distinguished professorship will honor Fort Worth physicist and businessman Richard Claytor while strengthening the University’s cutting-edge optics-related research. A $500,000 endowment established through a gift from Nelson Claytor, Richard’s son, will fund the professorship. Richard founded Fresnel Technologies, a leading manufacturer of molded plastic lenses and related optical components based in Fort Worth. He now serves as vice president. “Our hope is that this commitment leads to more and more visible support for optics in this region,” says Nelson Claytor, Fresnel Technologies president. “Where there are strong networks of companies in a technology such as optics, there are also strong universities.” Ron Elsenbaumer, provost and vice president for academic affairs, calls the donation “a prime example of the role that private investment plays in furthering university research.” The gift will help UT Arlington recruit a world-class faculty member to lead optics research in the College of Science. Nelson Claytor and Fresnel Technologies committed $250,000 to create the distinguished professorship in the Physics Department. The sum will double through the Maverick Match program, which leverages the University’s natural gas royalties to encourage philanthropy and bolster the UT Arlington endowment. The professorship honors Richard Claytor for his role in shaping Fresnel Technologies. He holds a doctorate in physics and 28 U.S. patents. “I’ve been working at the company since I was 12 years old in one way or another, and my father has taught me quite a lot of different things,” says Nelson, a longtime member of the College of Science Advisory Council. Optics research has led to advancements in a variety of fields, from medical imaging to fiber-optic communications. The new distinguished professor in physics will join UT Arlington faculty members from multiple disciplines engaged in innovations in the optics field.

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