Creating a Brave Space for AAPI Faculty

The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry has scheduled a virtual Faculty Town Hall discussion on racial discrimination and hate crimes experienced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

WHEN: April 13, 2021. 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm ET.

DESCRIPTION: Faculty members from all ASCO institutions are invited to participate in a virtual town hall meeting being called by President John Flanagan, Dr. Gary Chu, DEI SIG, and Dr. Ruth Shoge, Chair, ASCO’s Diversity and Cultural Competency Committee on April 13th, from 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. ET.  The focus of this event is to create a space for honest and open dialogue about the challenges faced by Asian American and Pacific Islander members of the optometric education community and to empower and provide ideas and resources to help your School and College community.

The discussion will be introduced by Dr. Michael Lu, Dean of UC Berkeley School of Public Health. (See Dr. Lu’s public statement) Dr. Gary Chu (NECO) and Dr. Mary Hoang (SCO) will lead and facilitate the discussion.

To join the meeting, please click this link:

Meeting ID: 952 4836 4081

Meeting passcode: 533261






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Dear members of the optometric education community,

It is with great sadness that we must again confront the evils of xenophobia, racism and hatred. The tragic mass murder in Atlanta was the latest in a shocking increase in violence against our American Asian Pacific Islander (AAPI) community since the beginning of the pandemic. Indeed, in a recent Op-ed from Insight Into Diversity, it is reported that there have been 3,795 hate crimes recorded by the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate, since March 19, 2020.1 We must stand together with our AAPI colleagues and friends. We must educate ourselves and understand our own history of anti-Asian racism, so often ignored and unacknowledged.2,3 Only then can we strive toward social justice for all.

As health care professionals we have a responsibility to challenge hate, xenophobia, racism and bigotry of every kind. We should understand and celebrate cultural differences, take pride in diversity in all its forms, and embrace equity and inclusivity. In our training we have learned about cultural competency, but we must strive toward the higher calling of cultural humility. We must help each other reflect and heal, and commit to a life that helps enable a just and equitable society. Our society must change, and we must be change makers, one conversation, one action at a time. If not, then our collective pain and suffering will have been for nothing.

I ask you to actively denounce anti-Asian racism, commit to anti-racism, and reach out to our Asian American students, colleagues, and friends. We stand with you.

ASCO continues to explore ways to engage our community in healing and fostering belonging.  We welcome your thoughts and ideas to help bring about the change we so desperately need.

John G. Flanagan
ASCO President




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The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) recently launched its new and refreshed website at

The home page is specifically designed to appeal to potential and future students and complements the site, which is a component of ASCO’s public awareness campaign, Optometry Gives Me Life.

The new website also appeals to other audiences – ASCO faculty and administrators, practicing ODs, Doctors of Optometry interested in ASCO’s Career Center, and more. As before, sections on diversity, equity and inclusion; data and reports; awards and grants; and ASCO’s corporate contributors program remain easily accessible.

“We are pleased to offer our new website to the public,” according to Dr. John Flanagan, ASCO President. “Our enhanced site is instructive and engaging whether you are a student considering optometry as a career or a faculty member looking for professional development opportunities.”

ASCO’s website can be viewed at

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To Deans and Presidents of Schools and Colleges of Optometry:

In its October 23-25 meeting, the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) assessed the current situation associated with impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the status of accreditation operations. As the federally declared disaster continues, the ACOE has amended its temporary policies and advisories. These policies are available on the ACOE’s website at

If an optometric institution is scheduled for an on-site review in 2021, expect to be contacted regarding planning for a visit in the coming months.

Communication on the amended policies is also being sent to the directors of residency programs at the schools and colleges and to the residency program supervisors. Contact Stephanie A. Puljak at ACOE at with any questions.

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A message from ASCO President, Dr. John Flanagan:

On Sunday, November 8, I had the honor of representing ASCO, at the invitation of the National Optometric Association, during a celebration, “Honoring an Icon in Optometry Dr. C. Clayton Powell, Sr.” It was a wonderful, heartwarming celebration of an amazing life. The following is the eulogy I offered on ASCO’s behalf.


On behalf of all the Deans and Presidents of the Schools and Colleges of Optometry, and all the faculty, staff and students we represent, I offer sincere condolences to all of our friends and partners at the National Optometric Association and to the family and friends of Dr. C. Clayton Powell. We are greatly saddened at Dr. Powell’s passing, he touched many of us in ways both profound and serious, but also of joy and life.

On a personal note I have fond memories of spending an evening with Dr. Powell when NOA met on the Berkeley campus in early October 2014.  We sat together at dinner and chatted enthusiastically. We exchanged stories of our mentors, our motivations, and our activism. I particularly remember him proudly telling me, with a twinkle in his expressive eyes, about how he beat his friend and classmate at both Booker T. Washington High School and later at Morehouse College, to become high school President. That friend was Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

What a giant we have lost.

And with his old friend in mind I thought it appropriate to recall Benjamin E. Mays, President of Morehouse College, from his Eulogy to Dr. King on April 9th 1968. He quoted poet Robert Browning, and it seemed so appropriate for our friend and colleague Dr. Clayton Powell Sr.

One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted the clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.

Dr. Powell influenced generations of optometrists; we wish him a peaceful rest.


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