Marty Wall
Executive Director
301 231-5944 Ext. 3016


ROCKVILLE, MD, September 1, 2009 – A Memorandum of Understanding to establish the American Board of Optometry (ABO) has been signed by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) president, Dr. Mel Shipp. ASCO joins the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), the American Optometric Association (AOA), and the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) in establishing the new board certification body. The ABO is the entity that will develop and implement the framework for board certification and maintenance of certification.

Commenting on signing the historic agreement, President Shipp said that “ASCO is pleased to partner with other organizations to ensure the delivery of high quality patient care services by optometrists. As a member of ABO, ASCO will be better able to ensure that the optometric education provided by its member institutions is consistent with this objective.”

David A. Heath O.D., Ed.M., President, State University of New York, State College of Optometry, was appointed by Dr. Shipp as ASCO’s representative to the American Board of Optometry (ABO). In announcing the appointment, Shipp commented, Dr. Heath brings broad experience as a dean and president of two optometric institutions as well as extensive ASCO and other not-for-profit leadership experience. In addition to his academic administration experience, Dr. Heath’s analytical ability, keen intellect and extensive operational and governance experience will be invaluable to the ABO.”



The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, represents the 20 professional doctor of optometry degree programs in the United States and Puerto Rico. Affiliate membership is available for foreign schools of  optometry and for related optometric organizations. A growing number of ophthalmic companies participate in ASCO’s Corporate Contributors Program.

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Kimberly O’Sullivan
Director, Communications
Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
(301) 231-5944 ext. 3019



ST. LOUIS, MO, January 23, 2009 – The Joint Board Certification Project Team (JBCPT), formed by six optometric organizations in 2007, released a model framework for a board certification process for optometry and began presenting it to leaders within the profession. At the core of the initial board certification program will be a Patient Assessment and Management-like examination that tests knowledge in core categories.

Beginning this month, members of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), the American Optometric Association (AOA), the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), the Association of Regulatory Boards in Optometry (ARBO), the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) will be briefed on details of the model framework by representatives from the project team.

AOA representative to the JBCPT David A. Cockrell, O.D., noted, “For 18 months, the Joint Board Certification Project Team researched other professional health certification processes and talked to experts and practitioners throughout the country to develop this proposal. We believe it is a credible model that addresses many of the issues of interest to members of the profession.”

“We hope the specifics contained in this model proposal contribute to the ongoing discussion within the profession regarding the future of board certification,” said Thomas L. Lewis, O.D., Ph.D., AAO representative to the JBCPT.

“It is vital to demonstrate to our patients, as well as to health care advocates, the federal government, and managed care programs, that a doctor of optometry meets high standards of competence,” said Arol R. Augsburger, O.D., ASCO representative to the JBCPT. “The model we’ve proposed should help us determine how the profession can best meet those demands.”

A key area of the proposed certification process is demonstrating a commitment to continuing education in order to qualify for the certification exam.

“We wanted to design a model based partly on continuing education but to make sure that the requirements were flexible enough to apply to optometrists in general practice,” said AOSA representative to the JBCPT, Christopher S. Wolfe, O.D.

The proposed post-graduate educational requirements call for optometrists to attain a minimum of 150 points after initial licensure to be eligible for the examination. These points may be attained in a number of ways such as residency, Clinical Fellowship in the American Academy of Optometry and/or other educational activities including continuing education.

Once practitioners become board-certified, maintenance of certification as a means of demonstrating continued competence is an important part of the process. Self-Assessment Modules (SAMs) and Performance In Practice Modules (PPMs) designed to enhance knowledge and skills significant to the practice of optometry are in their early stages of development.

“My fellow team members and I encourage all optometrists to study the model we’ve proposed and provide feedback,” said William B. Rafferty, O.D., ARBO representative to the JBCPT. “Refining the model and ensuring that it meets the needs of the profession should be important to every optometrist.”

NBEO representative to the JBCPT, Donovan L. Crouch, O.D., concurred, “Opening up the development process now to get as many viewpoints as possible is the only way we can make sure any board certification process addresses the current and future needs of optometrists and the patients we serve.”

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Optometry’s Joint Board Certification Project Team consists of representatives from the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), the American Optometric Association (AOA), the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), the Association of Regulatory Boards in Optometry (ARBO), the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO).

Details concerning the plan can be obtained from the JBCPT member organizations’ Web sites:

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Martin A. Wall
CAE, Executive Director

The Partnership Foundation for Optometric Education Welcomes The Heart of America Contact Lens Society (HOACLS) as a Contributing Partner

David Loshin (center) President of the Partnership Foundation receives the 2007 HOACLS contribution from Ellis Potter (left) and Larry Davis (right) members of the HOACL Education Committee

ROCKVILLE, MD, November 9, 2007 — The Partnership Foundation for Optometric Education welcomed its newest Contributing Partner, The Heart of America Contact Lens Society, this month at its Board of Directors meeting in Tampa, Florida. HOACLS joins fifteen national, regional and state contributing partners, the 17 schools and colleges of optometry, and corporate partners in the Partnership Foundation, whose goal is to provide financial support for the advancement of optometric education and related special needs of the profession. Contributing partners donate one dollar per hour to the Foundation for each optometrist registered to receive paid continuing education.

Heart of America President Roy Roberts stated, “HOACLS scholarships have assisted currently enrolled and graduating students over the years and we are committed to continue those opportunities. We believe that our investment in the foundation complements those endeavors by establishing resources to be used by the next generation of students and educators.”

Partnership Foundation President David Loshin describes HOACLS’s commitment to optometry education as “an unwavering constant and positive force in an era of economic uncertainties.” Loshin continues, “The Partnership Foundation welcomes the dedication and support that a market leader such as HOACLS brings to the profession’s future.”

The Heart of America’s first contribution was presented by Education Committee members Dr. Larry Davis and Dr. Ellis Potter. The Partnership Foundation for Optometric Education was established in 1996 by the Association of Schools and
Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and the American Optometric Association (AOA) to ensure the continued viability and promise of the profession of optometry. The next generation of practitioners will be the primary beneficiaries of the Foundation’s success,
through financial support of the professional optometry degree programs (O.D.) and related special projects. Its assets are approaching $4 million.

The Heart of America Contact Lens Society was founded over forty-five years ago with 40 original members. The annual HOACLS Congress, held each February, provides outstanding continuing education in primary care optometry and contact lens care.

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Kimberly O’Sullivan
Director, Communications
Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
(301) 231-5944 ext. 3019

ASCO President Amos Outlines Priorities

July 31, 2007 — John F. Amos, O.D., dean of the School of Optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was elected to a one-year term as president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry at its annual meeting held June 26-27, 2007 in Boston. He succeeds Hector Santiago, O.D., Ph.D., dean of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico School of Optometry.

In his acceptance speech, Dr. Amos outlined the priorities for his year as president: federal funding for optometric education; revitalizing interest in residency education, including increasing the residency applicant pool; sharing resources/sharing best practices; enhancing communication with corporate contributors; increasing the applicant pool in graduate vision science and securing vision science as a national research category; and raising awareness of international optometric education.

These priorities will be in addition to ASCO’s ongoing strategic objectives in faculty promotion and development, cultural competency/diversity and career promotion.

Also elected as ASCO officers were: president-elect – Gerald E. Lowther, O.D., Ph.D., dean of the Indiana University School of Optometry; secretary-treasurer – Melvin D. Shipp, O.D., MPH, Dr. PH, dean of the Ohio State University; and at-large member — Arol Augsburger, O.D., president, Illinois College of Optometry. Dr. Santiago remains on the executive committee as immediate past president.

ASCO’s annual luncheon program featured a presentation, “A Global Perspective of Optometry,” by Dr. Victor J. Connors, immediate past president, World Council of Optometry. Dr. Connors challenged the more than 150 luncheon guests — including representatives from related professional organizations, student leaders from the 19 schools and colleges from the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada and representatives from ophthalmic companies — to broaden their perspective of optometry.

The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, represents the 17 professional doctor of optometry degree programs in the United States and Puerto Rico. Affiliate membership is available for foreign schools of optometry and for related optometric organizations. A growing number of ophthalmic companies participate in ASCO’s Corporate Contributors Program.

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Kimberly O’Sullivan
Director, Communications
Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
(301) 231-5944 ext. 3019

Optometry Rated “Excellent” Career Choice By U.S.News and World Report

March 22, 2007 — Optometry is rated “excellent” in a guide to careers that appeared in the March 19, 2007 edition of U.S. News and World Report. Optometry is one of 10 careers that will be in growing demand as “baby boomers age, the Internet becomes ubiquitous and Americans seek richer, simpler lives.” The link to the article is

The list of recommended careers is based on expectations for job growth, earnings potential and the opportunity for meaningful work and good quality of life.

In the U.S. News and World Report guide, Optometry is identified as a “career where the job prospects are strong due to the large number of aging boomers in need of vision care.” Satisfaction in optometry, the article notes, is high “since most vision problems can be corrected with lenses or relatively minor surgery.” High growth was particularly projected for pediatric optometry.

ASCO President Hector Santiago, O.D., Ph.D., noted, “We are delighted to see that U.S. News confirmed what practicing optometrists already know – optometry is a smart career choice with expanding potential. The increasing number of students applying to optometry school over the past few years shows that ASCO’s career promotion efforts are succeeding in spreading the news about the many advantages of choosing the profession of optometry as a career. The U.S. News accompanying article on Dr. Lori Youngman also portrays the true character of the profession: one that holds hands and has sensibility for the needs of patients while providing excellent primary eye care.”


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Kimberly O’Sullivan
Director, Communications
Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
(301) 231-5944 ext. 3019

First Faculty Development Institute Receives Rave Reviews

August 10, 2006 — Post-meeting excitement was high among the thirty-two faculty members who attended ASCO’s first Summer Institute for Faculty Development, July 12-15, 2006. The faculty participants represented all 17 schools and colleges of optometry in the United States and Puerto Rico.

The four-day Institute was developed by ASCO’s Chief Academic Officers group and was held at the Eric P. Newman Education Center, Washington University Medical Center Campus, in St. Louis, Missouri. Serving on the planning committee were Drs. Linda Casser (formerly at PUCO and currently at NBEO), David Heath (NECO), Chuck Haine (SCO), Janice Scharre (ICO) and Karla Zadnik (OSU).

Among the comments received from participating faculty were: “Content was carefully chosen, perfectly presented, refreshingly applicable. Contributions from veteran faculty were nicely offered. Thank you!” “Excellent way to spend a day. Refreshing and reinforces what we do. Helps me know I am going in the right direction.” “Presenters were extremely enthusiastic, knowledgeable and presented information in a manner conducive to learning.”

Ten veteran administrators/faculty served as facilitators and mentors to participants. Also in attendance were four guest faculty speakers, four paid speakers and ASCO staff.

A key component of the Institute was a mentoring program in which all participants were assigned to work with one of eight mentors. Each mentor was assigned three to four attendees to help develop a set of long-term career goals, a corresponding set of objectives and specific action steps through which their goals may be achieved. The mentoring program was rated the most important component of the Institute by many participants.

Participants were welcomed by Dr. Larry Davis, dean at the University of Missouri St. Louis College of Optometry, and ASCO immediate past president. Dr. Davis said that “the most influential component of our institutions is the faculty….all successful transformational initiatives in education are made possible by the faculty.”

Dr. Tony Adams, professor and past dean at the University of California at Berkeley, gave the keynote speech on Life as an Academic. Other presentations during the Institute included: Learners and the Learning Environment, Developing and Delivering Effective Presentations, Reaching Your Professional Goals, Finding Your Path, How to Navigate the Publication Process and Situational Leadership.

ASCO contributed $25,000 in matching funds for the Institute. Generous funding was also received from Alcon Laboratories; CIBA Vision, a Novartis Company; Essilor Lenses/Varilux; Vistakon, a Division of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care; and Wal-Mart.

Planning has begun for the next Summer Institute for Faculty Development, which will occur in July 2007. It is hoped that the Institute will then be held in alternating years.


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Kimberly O’Sullivan
Director, Communications
Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
(301) 231-5944 ext. 3019

Optometry Schools Reach Out To Help Hurricane Victims

October 27, 2005 — It has become increasingly clear, now that the initial response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has passed, that the schools and colleges of optometry were able to respond to these disasters quickly and effectively, mobilizing their resources to provide eye and vision care to those so direly in need of their services. The support they provided to patients, to their alumni and to their communities was inspirational and demonstrated optometry’s vital contributions to improving the quality of life of those served.

Closest to the action was the University of Houston College of Optometry (UH) , which established triage centers and standalone primary eye care centers at the Astrodome/Reliant Park Center and the Convention Center. UH treated a total of 2800 patients at the two facilities. UH Dean Dr. Earl Smith reported that ” eye and vision care services were accessed more than the care from any other discipline.” Of the patients treated, 6% were diagnosed with glaucoma and 30% were diagnosed with eye disease. Dr. Lloyd Pate of the UH faculty, who worked at the Astrodome full-time during the immediate crisis, treated a number of victims including a boy who had broken his -13.00 glasses while waiting on a roof and was grateful to see again.

Another patient had glaucoma surgery a few days before the hurricane. Dr. Pate provided follow-up care and gave him new medicines. Dr. Pate also found severe diabetic retinopathy in several patients who were referred for surgery the very day that they were examined.

At UH’s clinical facilities at the University Eye Institute (UEI), 556 victims impacted by Katrina and 69 victims impacted by Hurricane Rita were examined. (Note: In the first six weeks, 319 patients were seen; in the last three weeks, that number almost doubled.)

A thank you note sent to UH from a grateful patient in Gretna , LA , said, “Thank you for offering me a free eye exam and glasses. I also want to thank you for helping other Katrina and Rita victims. What you did really warmed my heart. And your kindness meant a lot. God bless you with all my heart.”

Alumni from the Southern College of Optometry (SCO) were among those optometrists hit the hardest. Nearly 100 alumni lived in Katrina’s heaviest area of devastation. More than 80 were additionally affected by Rita’s follow-up strike.

Led by Dr. Lisa Wade, vice president of institutional advancement, SCO has kept an updated list of affected alumni, their whereabouts, those needing work and those willing to assist.

“Going forward, finding work is probably going to be the biggest challenge for many of these alumni who have lost their practice or who have no patients to go back to,” Dr. Wade said.

In addition to helping their alumni, SCO reached out to treat victims who had been relocated to Memphis , providing help through its Eye Center with eyewear and prescriptions. One such patient was a New Orleans resident who was living in a Memphis motel when she came to the Eye Center for assistance with her glaucoma medicine. “My family lost everything,” she told the SCO instructor, as he treated her at the Eye Center . “I appreciate you folks being so kind to us.”

According to Dr. Sam Pierce, a local O.D. and UAB graduate, similar compassion was shared by the faculty, students and staff at the University of Alabama School of Optometry (UAB). UAB staff reported that the underlying theme from most of the evacuees was deep appreciation for the school since they realized they had been treated as if they were established patients even though they would probably never see us again. One hurricane victim said, “I don’t know what I would do without my glasses. I can’t even fill out the paperwork at the shelter.”

UAB is now focusing its efforts on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (Bay St. Louis) since the overwhelming needs of the hurricane evacuees have been met in Birmingham .

Dr. George Foster, dean, Northeastern State University College of Optometry , reported that faculty and students examined and provided eye glasses or contact lenses to over 200 people evacuated to a National Guard camp near the school.

“The stories of these people are heart breaking,” Dr. Foster said. “All they have is the new clothes that have been provided. Stories are told of living in the Super Dome for five to seven days, then sitting in buses for 26 hours without knowing where they were going or what their future would be. Then they were placed in the hills of Oklahoma . I’m very proud of the whole health care team.They have jumped in and volunteered their expertise to help.”

Other optometry schools, although physically more removed from the disaster, were involved in relief efforts. One example was the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) , which mobilized its clinical arm, The Eye Institute (TEI), to offer free vision screenings and eyeglass and contact lens replacements to hurricane victims relocated to Philadelphia . According to Celeste Tucker, who manages patient modules at TEI, “The newspapers are filled with stories of people who were evacuated with just the clothes on their back; glasses, contacts and medication were either left behind or forgotten in the chaos. PCO was convinced that through TEI, the College’s clinical arm, it could perform an important service to these individuals by offering eye examinations, prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses and attending to other optometric issues.” “Everyone we have seen thus far is so touched with the care, concern and generosity demonstrated by the staff of TEI…,” Tucker added.

All schools and colleges contributed to relief efforts by opening their clinics to provide pro bono eye examinations for victims and/or by holding fund raisers to donate money and supplies.

The experience of responding to a disaster of this proportion compelled ASCO to begin developing an “ASCO Role in Disasters” policy that will position the ASCO office as “Information Clearinghouse and Communications Central” and will outline ways that optometric education can respond, individually and collectively, to future needs that arise from local, regional and national crises.


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