John P. Schaefer is President Emeritus of the University of Arizona where he had an active 21-year career in teaching and research. In 1971, he became the 15th president of the UA and served through 1982. At 36 years of age when he assumed the office, John was the second youngest UA president.
As president, he was known for setting the university on the path of its current reputation as a world-leading research university. Among his accomplishments was his approval for the university to participate in the Multiple Mirror Telescope project, which revolutionized optical telescope design. John was also responsible for the approval and construction of the UA’s Main Library.
He received his Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn, New York; his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Illinois; and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology. Following his postdoctoral studies, John taught chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley before coming to the UA as a chemistry professor in 1960. He served as head of the chemistry department and as dean of the College of Liberal Arts before becoming the university’s president.
John served as president and CEO of Research Corporation Technologies Inc. (RCT) in Tucson from 1988 to December 2004. In this role, he helped fund the Large Binocular Telescope project on Mount Graham. He has published an organic chemistry textbook and numerous scientific articles.
A professional photographer, John published five books on photography and authored articles in many well-known photographic publications. In 2019 the U.S. Postal Service issued a panel of Schaefer's cactus flower photographs as "forever" stamps.
This endowed chair, honoring Dr. Schaefer, was established by the Frederick Gardner Cottrell Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by Research Corporation Technologies Inc.
“Professors have the greatest opportunity to impact student experiences more than any other single factor. And world-class researchers are essential to the reputation and academic standing of a world-class university," said Shaun Kirkpatrick, President, Biotechnologies, at RCT.
John Paul Schaefer Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences Chair Holder
2022 - current