from Alumnus Gregory Olsen
U.Va. School Of
Engineering Receives $15 Million For Materials Science -- Largest
Gift In Schools History
19, 2000 -- Gregory H. Olsen, president and CEO of
Sensors Unlimited Inc., a fiber optics firm based in Princeton,
N.J., has pledged $15 million to the University of Virginia. Benefiting
the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, where Olsen
received a Ph.D. degree in 1971, the gift is the largest ever received
by the Universitys School of Engineering and Applied Science.
It complements a significant effort under way to expand engineering
research activities at the University, particularly in the area
of new materials.
are especially grateful to Greg Olsen for his most generous gift
to the Engineering School," said University President John T. Casteen
III. "It comes at a critical time as the University accelerates
efforts to strengthen the areas of science and technology. Greg's
interest and understanding of what is needed to move the school
forward will be key to Engineering's ability to achieve excellence
in materials science."
gift will assure the construction of a new $14 million building
that will greatly expand the departments research and teaching
space and also will provide new conference rooms and faculty offices,
among other facilities. The Engineering School will recommend to
the Universitys Board of Visitors that the building be named
Wilsdorf Hall in honor of the late Heinz Wilsdorf, first chair of
the department, and his wife, Doris Kuhlmann-Wilsdorf, University
Professor of Applied Science. The new structure, due to begin construction
in 2002, will connect the Universitys Materials Science and
Chemical Engineering buildings.
gift also will provide discretionary funds that the department can
use where the need is greatest. According to Richard W. Miksad,
dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the contribution
will enable an already highly ranked program to move into new areas
of advanced materials research.
additional space provided by this building will allow for new collaborative
projects between various departments and schools at the University,"
Miksad said. "Such collaborations are important to our schools
leadership in emerging technologies."
a student working under the direction of Professor William Jesser,
Olsen conducted research at the University on phase transformations
in epitaxial thin films of iron. Eventually shifting his focus from
metals to semiconductors to fiber optics, he worked with RCA labs
in Princeton before founding Epitaxx in 1984 and Sensors Unlimited
is with great pride that Ive watched Gregs successes
over the years. Im delighted that he has chosen to contribute
such an important gift in support of our department," said
Jesser, now chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
gift resulted from the recent acquisition of Sensors Unlimited by
Finisar Corp., whose founder, Frank Levinson, received a Ph.D. degree
in astronomy at the University in 1980. In addition to serving as
president and CEO of Sensors Unlimited, now a subsidiary of Finisar,
Olsen is executive vice president and a board member of Finisar
speaks highly of the depth and breadth of the training he received
in the Universitys Engineering School. "The principles
are the same, whether were talking metals, semiconductors,
or plastics," he said. "Twenty-four years later, I am
still using the background I got in materials science. Im
very high on Virginia that way."
Carol Wood, (804) 924-6189