A Message from ASCO Executive Director, Dawn Mancuso, MAM, CAE, FASAE

January 29, 2016

We are well in the New Year and I wish you a wonderful 2016.

As I reflect back on 2015, there is much I would like to share.

I began my tenure as ASCO’s Executive Director this summer after long-standing Executive Director Marty Wall retired. The welcome I received has been so overwhelmingly positive and supportive – I greatly appreciate everyone making me feel at home so quickly. So far, the work has been challenging and extremely fulfilling.

Around the same time as I joined ASCO, Dr. David Heath, President of the SUNY College of Optometry, was elected ASCO President. Together, Dr. Heath and I are off to a good start. Of particular note, ASCO is embarking on a comprehensive strategic planning process to develop a five-year, organization-wide plan that will drive priority initiatives, annual work plans and budgets for the Association. The process will be as inclusive as possible and will include input from ASCO committees, special interest groups, staff and other stakeholders. Our goal is to have a finalized plan before spring 2017.

Highlights of 2015 include:

  • The University of Pikeville, Kentucky College of Optometry became ASCO’s 22nd
  • A special category of membership was developed for developing schools.
  • Our first Online Clinical Educators Forum was held by ASCO’s Clinical Affairs Committee.
  • ASCO held its first joint ASCO-American Academy of Optometry workshop “Charting Your Career in Academic Optometry.”
  • ASCO received very generous support from a growing set of Corporate Contributors as well as sponsors for individual programs. We welcomed National Vision, Optos, Optovue, Safilo, and Vital Source Technology as new Corporate Contributors.
  • We experienced a 5% increase in the number of optometry school applicants in the application cycle for 2014-2015 as compared to the previous cycle.

Some interesting stats from the Profile of the Entering Class (2014-2015 academic year) are:

  • At the schools and colleges of optometry in the 50 states and Puerto Rico, there were a total of 6,805 optometry students enrolled during the 2014-2015 academic year
  • 66.1% of the student body was female and 33.9% was male.
  • The student body was 55.7% White, 29.1% Asian, 5.1% Hispanic or Latino, 3.1% African American, 0.6% American Indian or Alaskan Native, 0.4% Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian, and 5.9% Other.
  • The average GPA of the 2015 entering class was 3.43; and first year tuition and fees range from $17,556 to $55,184.
  • The Joint Project on Further Developing a Robust, Diverse, and Highly Qualified National Applicant Pool continued promoting the profession in the following ways: virtual fairs, email campaigns, direct mail campaigns, search engine optimization, increased social media presence, videos, blogs,podcasts, publications (True Stories booklet and the revised Optometry Career Guide) and the completely revamped Inspiring Future ODs Program.
  • ORMatch experienced a 3% increase in applicants in 2015 compared to the previous match cycle. Seventy-three percent of the residency applicants were matched and 86% of the available positions were filled. There were 210 residency sites with 411 available positions participating.
  • The new platform for the Residency Directory opened in December.
  • The Annual Faculty Data Report, containing 15 tables of data on faculty demographics, was released in March.
  • The Annual Student Data Report, containing 43 tables of data on student enrollment, graduation figures and financial aid, came out in April.
  • Dr. Glenn Hammack, Founding President, NuPhysicia LLC, received the first Dr. Lester Caplan honorary award lecture during the ASCO Clinic Directors SIG meeting in October.
  • Plans were finalized for our inaugural Summit on Interprofessional Education and Practice, scheduled for early February.
  • ASCO held a special joint board meeting with the National Board of Examiners in Optometry to discuss collaborative strategies for addressing current and future issues.
  • The ASCO Public Health Educators SIG began working on the “Essential Public Health and Environmental Optometry Curriculum Content for Schools and Colleges of Optometry” document, which is modeled after our “Attributes of Students Graduating from Schools and Colleges of Optometry” document.
  • James Sheedy, who was instrumental in forming the ASCO Ophthalmic Optics Educators SIG in 1996, was honored for his contributions in ophthalmic optics and delivered the Joe Bruneni Honorary Award Lecture entitled “Blue Light-Good or Bad?” in memory of Dr. Daryl Meister.
  • The 6th Summer Institute for Faculty Development was held in July, supported by Alcon, Vistakon, Essilor, National Board of Optometry, Luxottica, Allergan, and the Partnership Endowment. 100% of this year’s program participants rated the sessions favorably. A few testimonials are:

“This was an overwhelmingly wonderful experience. I feel very fortunate to have been able to attend this training and will recommend to all my colleagues!”

“Very beneficial and wonderful institute! These sessions and lectures have been incredibly valuable as I develop my career. The speakers were very helpful and knowledgeable with their material. Thank you to everyone who coordinated and prepared this conference!”

“Excellent program provide[d] rejuvenation and passion for what I do.”

  • The 3rd Future Faculty Program, supported by a generous contribution from Walmart, was also held in July, and 100% of this year’s program participants rated the sessions favorably as well.
  • The ASCO Curriculum Guidelines for Culturally Competent Eye and Vision Care Workshop Grant Program held five cultural competency diversity workshops in 2015. Generously funded by Walmart, the program provides funds to schools and colleges of optometry for on-site Cultural Competency Curriculum Guidelines Implementation Workshops. The workshops demonstrate how to use ASCO’s guidelines to incorporate topics and experiences in cultural competency into the optometric curriculum. Workshops were held at: Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University (Jan); Southern College of Optometry (Feb); Midwestern University – Arizona College of Optometry (March); University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (March); and University of California – Berkeley School of Optometry (May).
  • ASCO’s Journal, Optometric Education, was redesigned and emerged as a more technologically advanced and user-friendly publication with its Summer 2015 issue in July.

The journal appears online in a new format, equipped with new digital capabilities that make its content more easily searchable via Google Scholar and other search engines. All content is available as a web page, eliminating the need to open or download a PDF file. The redesign simplifies the finding and sharing of information for students and practitioners and improves the reading experience on all devices, including smartphones and tablets.

The updates also give ASCO corporate contributors and other supporters a new way to direct readers to their websites via a simple click-through. In addition, the new format and capabilities open opportunities for future discussions and forums online.

  • Two additional podcasts were added to our podcast series in 2015: Optometry and Interprofessional Education and ASCO and New Beginnings.
  • ASCO’s Awards Program was supported by International Vision Expo and Oculus.
  • ASCO held almost 40 various meetings for committees, SIGs and other groups.
  • Dr. Michelle Hoff, UCB, was our first non-corporate contributor with a very generous private contribution to the ASCO Ophthalmic Optics Educators SIG.
  • We made infrastructure investments in new web-based applications and technology dealing with ASCO’s membership database, on-going operational surveys, centralized application system, centralized admission exam, residency match service, website and social media landing pages, etc.
  • We presented Resolutions reflecting the Board’s appreciation to Dr. Roger Boltz (upon his departure from the Board ), Dr. Jennifer Coyle (for having served two terms as ASCO President), Dr. Earl Smith (for his induction into the National Optometry Hall of Fame), and Marty Wall (for his 24 years of service as ASCO’s Executive Director).
  • ASCO Board members and staff represented optometric education at important industry meetings with the AAO, ABO, ACOE, AOA, ARBO, COPE, FASHP, NAEVR/AEVR, NAAHP, NBEO, IOM/NAM Global Forum, etc.

I am very encouraged by the work that we have completed and look ahead with optimism at the work that is to be done.

A very special thank you to all of our Corporate Contributors and sponsors. Your generosity has allowed ASCO to continue our vital programs that support optometric education.

Wishing you all a very bright 2016!


Dawn Mancuso, MAM, CAE, FASAE
ASCO Executive Director