ICO President Shares Vision of the Future at Installation of Incoming New England College of Optometry President.
On June 10th ICO President Dr. Charles Mullen represented the Deans and Presidents of America’s Schools and Colleges of Optometry and spoke at the installation of Alan Laird Lewis, O.D., Ph.D., as incoming President of the New England College of Optometry (NECO). Inasmuch as the challenges and opportunities envisioned apply to ICO as well as NECO, Alumni Matters is pleased to reproduce Dr. Mullen’s brief remarks in their entirety.
Dr. Lewis, Chairman Spector, members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished members of the New England College of Optometry faculty and administration, colleagues and honored guests.
It is indeed a pleasure and a privilege for me to be here today as the representative of the Deans and Presidents of America’s Schools and Colleges of Optometry, as a friend and colleague of Dr. Lewis, and to return to my Alma Mater.
Over the years Dr. Lewis and I, to some extent, followed similar paths. We are both graduates of the New England College of Optometry. We both served as officers in the United States Navy and we both pursued careers in optometric education.
As Director of the Optometry Service at the Veterans Health Administration, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Lewis while he was Dean at the Michigan College of Optometry. We worked closely during those years to expand clinical training for optometric students at various Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities.
I have the greatest respect for Dr. Lewis’ abilities as an administrator and as an educator. He possesses those rare and most desirable talents of a keen intellect with the ability to comprehend and act on the larger issues, challenges and opportunities along with an appreciation for the importance of detail.
The challenges and opportunities all of us in optometric education will face during Dr. Lewis’ tenure as president are numerous.
We will see a lessening of our dependency upon campus-based facilities for the clinical education of students. Perhaps initially driven by economic considerations, the greater diversity of educational experiences provided by externships will increase pressure for more community-based training sites. The New England College of Optometry maintains a leadership role in the development and management of community-based sites and is already meeting this challenge.
College based clinics will play a significant role, however, as faculty practice becomes more important as a means for enhancing faculty income and improving our ability to recruit and retain highly qualified clinicians.
We will see a movement away from traditional classroom teaching toward more technology assisted self-learning through the rapid advances being made in communications and computer-based technology.
There will be an increased recognition that the function of a school or college of optometry is to prepare graduates for a lifetime of learning. We will redefine the entry-level attributes of our students and modify our curriculum to emphasize a lifelong commitment to learning. Students will learn to commit to a philosophy that emphasizes the acquisition of knowledge over mere information absorption and memorization.
We will recognize our responsibility to expose our students to a wide variety of practice opportunities.
We must also be prepared to offer meaningful advanced competency education to practicing optometrists as a core value of institutions of optometric education.
And, we must be ready to assist our faculty in adapting their teaching strategies to reflect this new paradigm.
And, finally we must find ways to reduce the level of indebtedness students face upon graduation, perhaps by controlling tuition increases and by providing increased scholarship support.
I also believe that the future direction of optometry will be fueled more than ever by the economics of the managed care marketplace. Quality assurance programs, appropriate advanced competency certifications and accreditation of clinical facilities will become increasingly important.
Consultation among professionals and the national academic eye centers of excellence will take advantage of advanced technology to become a standard practice. Precise retinal images and other data will be instantly transmitted from one point to another in real time.
We will see the development and utilization of a national faculty in several disciplines linked through developing technology. Schools and colleges of optometry will be able to access a faculty of our finest educators.
In such an environment, made possible by advances in technology and made necessary by economic imperative to be as efficient as possible, there will be unprecedented pressures to work together in a cooperative spirit. In this environment Dr. Alan Lewis, who has earned the respect and admiration of his peers will be indispensable as a leader.
I am confident that his contributions to the College, optometric education and the profession will be numerous and his leadership exceptional.
I pledge to Dr. Lewis my personal support and that of his fellow Deans and Presidents of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, and I wish him continued success as the President of The New England College of Optometry.
Alumni Matters – Summer 2000
Illinois College of Optometry
Charles F. Mullen O.D.