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Endowed Scholarship Brings Professor Emeritus Full Circle

C.A. and Sonja Quarles

With gifts in their wills, Dr. C.A. Quarles and his wife, Sonja, can continue to help physics and astronomy majors at TCU.

In 65 memorable years, Dr. C.A. Quarles has come full circle as a Horned Frog. The Fort Worth native received a valedictorian scholarship from the university that allowed him to study physics and mathematics. After graduating in 1960, he spent time at Princeton and Brookhaven National Laboratory before returning to TCU in 1967 as an assistant professor in the physics department.

“My whole professional life, and much of my personal life, has revolved around TCU,” he explains. “I imagine that very few students have the opportunity to return to their alma mater, so I consider myself very fortunate and privileged.”

He and his colleagues have taken steps to extend that good fortune to others. Over the years, he and his wife, Sonja, have built upon The Dr. C.A. Quarles Undergraduate Scholarship in Physics and Astronomy that was established by the department in his honor in 2010. “We have continued to fund the scholarship with yearly contributions and plan to eventually grow it to the level of a full scholarship with gifts in our wills,” he says. “In the meantime, it has already provided supplemental financial support for quite a few students.”

Now professor emeritus, Dr. Quarles has retired from the university twice: from full-time teaching and research in 2010, and from his appointment as a Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Tutor in the physics and astronomy department in 2019.

“TCU has provided me with a lifelong career doing what I loved to do: teach, mentor and be involved with students in research into new areas of physics,” he explains. “My career here has provided me the opportunity to acquire some financial independence, which allows me to both offer some support to my children and grandchildren and to consider helping others achieve their goals.”

The Quarles Scholarship supports the next generation of physics and astronomy majors at TCU. “We believe it is important to help students who need financial assistance to attend TCU to begin their careers by being able to finance their study without a large debt,” Dr. Quarles says. “While the level of aid needed for me in 1956 was much smaller than what is needed today, the effect at the time was the same: the scholarship made it possible for me to enroll at TCU and get a great start on my career.”

To learn how you can make an impact on TCU students, contact TCU Gift Planning at 817.257.7299 or