Skip to content

The University of Texas at ArlingtonThe University of Texas at Arlington

College of Science

College of Science News

$500K professorship will be huge boost to optics program

A new, endowed distinguished professorship at UT 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 recently established through a philanthropic gift from Nelson E. Claytor, Richard Claytor’s son. Richard Claytor founded Fresnel Technologies Inc., a leading manufacturer of molded plastic lenses and related optical components based in Fort Worth. He now serves as vice president of the company.

“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.”

Ronald L. Elsenbaumer, UT Arlington vice president for research and federal relations, called Nelson Claytor’s gift “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 within the College of Science.

“This investment will have a significant, direct impact on the future of the optics industry and economic development in North Texas for generations to come,” Elsenbaumer said.

Nelson Claytor and Fresnel Technologies committed $250,000 to create the distinguished professorship in UT Arlington’s Physics Department. That sum will be matched by the Maverick Match program, which leverages the University’s natural gas royalties to encourage philanthropy and bolster the University's endowment.

Pamela Jansma, dean of the College of Science, said Nelson and Richard Claytor have been friends of the College for many years. Nelson Claytor is a longtime member of its advisory council.

“We’re extremely grateful that they will help us fill this critical role,” Jansma said.

Nelson Claytor said the named distinguished professorship is intended to honor his father for the role he has played in shaping Fresnel Technologies and for the knowledge he has shared industry-wide through the years. Richard Claytor 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 he’s taught me quite a lot of different things, from how to control a machine for optics manufacturing to how to run a company,” Nelson Claytor said of his father.

Optics research has led to advancements in a wide variety of fields, from medical imaging to fiber optic communications. The new distinguished professor in physics will join UT Arlington faculty from multiple disciplines already engaged in innovations in the optics field.