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New endowed chair in engineering established

Arthur W. Zafiropoulo, founder, CEO, and chairman of Ultratech, Inc., has provided a $2.5 million gift to establish a new endowed faculty chair in the College of Engineering at Northeastern University.

“The fundamental strength of a research university begins with recruiting and retaining professors who are dedicated to transforming the lives of students through teaching and research,” said Zafiropoulo, whose Silicon Valley-based company develops, manufactures and markets photolithography and laser thermal processing.

“I think it’s important that Northeastern have the resources it needs to attract the best undergraduate, graduate and PhD students. That begins with attracting the best faculty,” he said. “The future of individual lives, and the future of our nation, depends on quality education.”

Although Zafiropoulo has resided in California for the past 20 years, he was raised in a suburb of Boston in a working-class family and attended Northeastern’s College of Engineering in the early 1960s.

“My family’s income level limited the scope of things I could do educationally,” he said, adding that it was his modest upbringing that first empowered him to support causes to benefit young people. His current philanthropy also supports organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House in Silicon Valley.

“Today I give back for the many rewards I’ve received in my life,” said Zafiropoulo, who is director emeritus for Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International, a global trade association representing the semiconductor, flat-panel display equipment and materials industry. He is also founder and owner of the successful Ferrari dealership of Silicon Valley, one of the largest in North America.

The Art Zafiropoulo Endowed Chair in Engineering Fund will directly support the work of an engineering faculty member in the College of Engineering.

“Art is a visionary philanthropist and friend. By endowing a chair, he is ensuring the College of Engineering continues to have a positive impact on society over many generations, in perpetuity. That is the ultimate gift a university can receive,” said Joseph Aoun, president of Northeastern University.

Endowed chairs and professorships are among the highest recognition that an institution of higher education can bestow on its faculty, and among the most powerful tools Northeastern has for recruiting and retaining top faculty. Donors like Zafiropoulo who establish an endowed chair create a lasting legacy that links their name to excellence in research and teaching in perpetuity. Endowed chairs are reserved for distinguished scholars and teachers and provide funds to the chair holder in support of his or her teaching, research and service.

David Luzzi, dean of the College of Engineering—who partners with Zafiropoulo on the college’s West Coast Dean’s Advisory Council—said, “This is a transformative and catalytic gift for the College of Engineering. Already other alumni and friends are stepping forward and supporting our faculty because they respect Art and are inspired by his investment in our shared vision to embrace education as a means to better our society.”

Zafiropoulo said, “This gift is a small step toward making a large impact. I hope others will take that step with me.”