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Dean: Earl L. Smith, III, O.D., Ph.D., University of Houston
Associate Dean for Professional Studies: Roger L. Boltz, O.D., Ph.D., University of Houston
Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research: Laura J. Frishman, John and Rebecca Moores Professor, Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh.
Associate Dean, Clinical Education: Nicky R. Holdeman, Executive Director University Eye Institute, Chief of Medical Services and Professor of Optometry. O.D., University of Houston; M.D., Texas Tech University.
Associate Dean, Professional Development: Marcus Piccolo, Associate Professor of Optometry. O.D., Pennsylvania College of Optometry.
Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Admissions: Lanny Shulman, Clinical Associate Professor of Optometry, O.D., Ph.D., University of Houston
Director of Learning Resources: Suzanne Ferimer, M.L.S., University of Kentucky
Director of Technical Services: Chris Kuether, B.M., Indiana University
The College of Optometry is one of the university’s thirteen colleges. Established in 1952, the college moved in 1976 to its building, now named the J. Davis Armistead Building, one of the most modern optometric facilities in the world.
Approximately, one hundred students are admitted into the professional optometric program each year from the United States and other countries. The college not only educates students planning to practice optometry, but also offers Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs in physiological optics for students planning careers in teaching and research. Students who have a degree in biological or physical science or biomedical engineering with a special interest in vision or who are graduates of an optometry school or other professional health program may want to consider entering the graduate program.
The faculty of dedicated research scientists and expert clinicians is complemented by research laboratories, teaching clinics, and an extensive college library of scientific literature.
Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health care providers who specialize in the examination, diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as the diagnosis of related systemic conditions.
Graduates from the professional optometric program may enter family practice or serve in multidisciplinary primary care clinics. Graduates also find careers in public health, teaching and research, and health administration. Residencies/fellowships are available in pediatric, primary care, contact lenses, rehabilitative, or hospital-based optometry. Special services for children, the elderly, and the partially-sighted can each be exclusively practiced. Helping to care for vision, our most treasured sense, makes optometry a rewarding profession for students interested in a health career.
Because of its clinical activities, The College of Optometry may use an academic calendar which is different than the University’s. This information can be obtained directly from the college.
The college’s goals are to provide educational programs essential to rendering high-quality, comprehensive optometric care; to add to the body of knowledge and the applications of the vision sciences; and to provide leadership in the improvement of optometric patient care. All programs and activities of the college serve one or more of these educational, research, or service purposes.
The college’s institutional objectives are to achieve and to sustain standards of excellence in teaching, research, and patient care; to create a climate in which faculty and students cooperatively pursue processes of inquiry that result in effective learning; and to help lead the optometric profession toward its highest potential for human service.
Professional Degree Program
The educational program in optometry requires four academic years and two summer sessions. All fourth-year students begin externships and specialty clinics just after the end of their third academic year. One-third of the fourth-year class serves in external multidisciplinary primary care clinical rotations during each of the three semesters. One-third serves in an external medical setting, and one-third rotates through specialty clinics each term. Didactic courses are taken during the specialty clinic rotation. Students must satisfactorily complete a total of 177 semester hours, at least seven hours of which must be in approved electives. With permission of the associate dean for graduate studies, students may also take graduate courses in physiological optics for elective credit in the professional degree program.
Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy Programs
In addition to the professional program in optometry, the college offers a graduate program in physiological optics that prepares students to earn a Master of Science or a Doctor of Philosophy degree or both and thereby embark on a career in teaching and research in the basic science of vision.
Students who have a Bachelor of Science or higher degree from a field such as optometry, physiological optics, medicine, ophthalmology, anatomy, physiology, bioengineering, and biophysics may be eligible for admission to this program.
The need for new knowledge in the vision sciences is great, and teaching and research opportunities are numerous in an array of academic, industrial, and professional settings. Students interested in a career in teaching and research in physiological optics and vision science may obtain additional information about the graduate program by referring to the section on the graduate program on the College of Optometry website in physiological optics and by contacting the associate dean for graduate studies and research.
A combined O.D./Ph.D. program is available to a few select students who would like to combine clinical and research training. The combined program allows a student to obtain both degrees in a shorter time than obtaining them sequentially.
Other Educational Programs
The university also recognizes a responsibility to provide postgraduate clinical training, to bring continuing education to optometrists in the state and region, and to participate in the training of allied personnel.
The College of Optometry is accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association.