sealPurdue News

September 7, 2001

Couple gives Purdue $10 million for nanotech center

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue alumni Donald and Carol Scifres have donated $10 million to the university's new $51 million Birck Nanotechnology Center.

Donald and Carol Scifres

Donald Scifres, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, is an electrical engineer who holds more than 130 patents. He is co-chairman of the board and chief strategy officer of JDS Uniphase Corp., an optical communications company with home offices in San Jose, Calif., and Ottawa, Canada. Both he and Carol Scifres are Greater Lafayette area natives.

"This generous gift from Dr. and Carol Scifres will catapult Purdue into the 21st century, giving the university one of the best facilities for nanotechnology research in the nation," said Purdue University President Martin C. Jischke. "On a more personal note, their contribution adds a new chapter to the Scifres family legacy at Purdue and in West Lafayette."

In recognition of the gift, a wing of the new nanotechnology center will be named for Donald Scifres' father, Ray, a member of Purdue's electrical engineering staff for 35 years before retiring in 1975.

Donald Scifres earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Purdue in 1968 and a doctoral degree in electrical engineering in 1972 from the University of Illinois. Carol Scifres is a 1969 Purdue graduate.

Donald Scifres' uncle, Robert E. Scifres, is a 1938 Purdue graduate who received an Outstanding Electrical Engineer Award from the university.

"Carol and I are delighted to honor not only Purdue, but also my father, in this way," Donald Scifres said. "Purdue has meant a great deal to my family, and we are proud to help Purdue lead the way into this exciting new frontier of science."

Scifres founded Spectra Diode Laboratories Inc. in 1983. The telecommunications company, located in San Jose, Calif., later became known as SDL Inc. before merging with JDS Uniphase.

He has received numerous honors and is a fellow of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Optical Society of America. Scifres received an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 2001 and an Outstanding Electrical Engineer Award in 1992.

"I received an excellent education at Purdue," said Scifres. "The background that I gained in engineering and the sciences was extremely valuable in my professional life."

Construction on the three-floor nanotechnology center is expected to begin in July 2002 and be completed in the summer of 2004.

The Scifreses also have been generous in the Greater Lafayette community, recently giving the West Lafayette Parks Foundation a $700,000 gift to help preserve parks in the city.

The nanotechnology gift announcement was made on the first day of Discover Purdue Week, which concludes with the Purdue-Notre Dame football game, Sept. 15. Discover Purdue Week, in turn, kicks off of a yearlong campaign to help Hoosiers "Discover Purdue."

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709,

Source: Martin C. Jischke, (765) 494-9708

Related information:
Top 10 gifts to Purdue

Related Web site:
Purdue Development

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A publication-quality photograph of Donald and Carol Scifres and a Discover Purdue logo are available at or at They are called: Scifres.jpeg and Disc.Purdue.jpeg.

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