Weekly Memo

Nov. 4, 2013

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

   Last week I had the great honor to introduce Govind Agrawal at his installation as the inaugural Dr. James C. Wyant Professor in Optics in front of a large gathering of friends, family, fellow faculty and students at Rush Rhees Library. This was truly a special occasion. As President Joel Seligman noted in his remarks, bestowing an endowed professorship recognizes extraordinary achievement and provides an example for the rest of our faculty. And I cannot think of a better example than the one Govind has set. He is a renowned researcher and innovator, a superb educator, and an outstanding ambassador for The Institute of Optics, for the Hajim School and for our University.

     This was also an opportunity to recognize Jim Wyant, a PhD graduate of The Institute of Optics, a University trustee and member of the Hajim School Dean’s Advisory Committee -- and an accomplished researcher, educator and entrepreneur in his own right.

     I greatly respect Jim's advice and observations. So I was especially gratified when he commented during his visit that the Institute of Optics is like a "family." That resonated even more because of an email I received recently from a mother whose son attended our Engineering Day presentations for prospective students. Her son, she noted, did not have Optics on his "radar screen" when he came here, but was "enamored" with the Optics presentation. I'd like to quote from her email about what happened next.

      "My son called Dan Smith ... and asked to meet with him to further discuss the program. Dan immediately set up a time for my son  (and I came along). Wow. Dan spent a good hour with us. Then Julie Bentley spent another half hour with us. Then Per Adamson spent an hour with us walking through the labs, talking about the program, introducing us to Aaron (a senior) so he could get the student perspective. We were both totally impressed that these faculty were a) all excited about what they do and b) willing to spend the time with just one prospective student.
I wanted to let you know about that – you’ve got great faculty who put a great face on your programs. My son is applying early decision and is more excited than I’ve seen him during this college search process."

     And that's why I get excited too, about the Institute of Optics, about the Hajim School, and about all the great people who make this such a great place for learning.

     Speaking of which, online registration for spring classes begins today, and now there's an additional resource that Hajim School students can turn to if they have questions. Five Hajim School seniors from three departments -- Amanda Chen, Allayna DeHond and Kyle Fedorchak in BME; Laura Lyons in ChemE; and Carol Xu in Optics -- are serving as peer advisers this school year. They can help Hajim  School students with selecting classes, declaring majors, connecting with faculty and learning more about opportunities for research, study abroad, and independent studies. It's as simple as sending them an email. Read more about the program here.

    As always, keep me updated and have a great week.


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean