Optical science pioneer and Case Western Reserve University Trustee James C. Wyant, PhD, has made a $4 million commitment to name a new field house on campus. The “Wyant Field House” will be a new addition to the North Campus Residential Village.
The Wyant Field House will be approximately 24,000 square feet and will serve as a facility for varsity athletes and the 2,500 students who reside at the Village. The facility will include weight training and cardiovascular areas, a Varsity Club lounge, and multipurpose space. Also included in this gift is the “Coach Bill Sudeck Track,” named in memory of the university's legendary coach, who was Wyant’s mentor.
“We are enormously grateful to Jim Wyant for this gift and the way it pays tribute to the role that athletics can play in the development of young people,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “This project will enhance the experience of legions of students who seek to improve their physical fitness and their athletic performance.”
Wyant’s naming gift provides the university the confidence to launch a full-fledged campaign to complete the field house project. This campaign will be chaired by one of Case Western Reserve’s most renowned athletes, Fred DiSanto, a 1985 graduate. Construction of the field house is expected to begin in two years.
The project will build on the success of the North Campus Residential Village and Athletic Complex, which in 2005 began housing students and serving as the primary athletic facilities for the Spartan football, baseball, softball, men’s and women’s track, and men’s and women’s soccer teams.
Wyant’s gift was inspired by the influential role of athletics during his college years, especially impacted by Sudeck, who coached cross country, track and field, and men's basketball at Case Institute of Technology (CIT) and Case Western Reserve for 46 years. Sudeck died of cancer in 2000. Wyant attributes his personal and professional success to Sudeck.
“Being involved in athletics was one of the most enjoyable parts of my undergraduate experience,” said Wyant, a former captain of the CIT Roughriders' cross country team. “I always hoped that someday I would make enough money to come back and help the athletic department in some way.”
Wyant, a 1965 alumnus of CIT, resides in Tucson, Ariz., and he is dean of the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, one of the world’s foremost teaching and research programs in optics. In 2002 he co-founded the 4D Technology Corporation and currently serves as its board chair.
With over 100 publications, Wyant is an acknowledged expert in the fields of light wave interference, diffraction, and optical testing. He is a pioneer in the fields of phase shifting interferometry, multiple wavelength interferometry, vertical scanning interferometry and holography, and he holds numerous patents. As a founder of WYKO Corporation, he served as its chairman and president from 1984 to 1997.
Wyant was appointed to the Case Western Reserve Board of Trustees in February. Case Western Reserve, which is a member of the very competitive University Athletic Association, offers 19 varsity sports, in which over 500 students participate annually. As a Division III university, all facilities are open to all students. All undergraduates enroll in physical education courses required for graduation, and nearly 70 percent of undergraduates participate on 528 intramural teams. Equally noteworthy is the importance of outstanding facilities to the physical fitness/ health and wellness activities undertaken by university students.