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
The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) recently launched its new and refreshed website at www.optometriceducation.org.
The home page is specifically designed to appeal to potential and future students and complements the futureeyedoc.org 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 www.optometriceducation.org.
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 www.theacoe.org.
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 email@example.com with any questions.
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.
Symposium generously funded by VSP Global
Generously sponsored by VSP Global, the ASCO/NOA/AAO Joint Symposium on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will be held during AAO’s annual meeting, Academy 2020 At Home.
The Symposium will showcase the current state of diversity in optometry and will feature an overview of diversity in the schools and colleges of optometry, and ASCO’s, AAO’s, and NOA’s diversity and inclusion efforts to date; an equity and inclusion success story from a non-optometric health field (veterinary medicine); and strategies for working toward a more diverse, culturally sensitive, and inclusive profession.
This Symposium is complementary to ASCO’s public awareness campaign, Optometry Gives Me Life, which strives to increase the quality and quantity of the applicant pool, especially among those students in underrepresented minority groups. The three sponsoring associations have plans to continue their collaboration and create additional diversity-equity-inclusion-related programming for Academy 2021 Boston.
Symposium Planning Chair Dr. Karla Zadnik, Dean of the College of Optometry at The Ohio State University said, “This symposium is the first of its kind for our three organizations. Ever. Co-presented by ASCO, the NOA and the AAO, it will foster conversation regarding diversity and inclusion in optometry. Hopefully, faculty members at all ASCO institutions will make attendance a high priority.”
“VSP Global® is honored to sponsor the Diversity Symposium at Academy 2020 at Home,” said Michelle Skinner, VSP Global Chief Network Officer. “This is an important conversation that aligns with our own organization’s diversity & inclusion strategy, which is focused on accelerating diversity, inclusion and equity efforts to support the diverse communities we serve, including optometry students and Doctors of Optometry.”
“The American Academy of Optometry membership pillar focuses on increasing membership for under-represented populations. We recently formed a Diversity Task Force that will, among other things, focus on developing initiatives and programs addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion to improve and increase diversity in Academy membership and leadership. Confronting the longstanding pandemic of inequality and racism in our society and our profession requires all of us to do the honest, uncomfortable work of addressing it and facilitating change,” said Sherrol Reynolds, OD, FAAO, Chair, Membership Pillar, American Academy of Optometry and President of the National Optometric Association.
Attendees do not need to be registered for Academy 2020 at Home in order to attend the Symposium. Click here to access the link to view the Symposium. A video recording of the event will be made available at a later date.
Symposium presenters are:
Dr. Gary Chu, Vice President, Professional Affairs, The New England College of Optometry, and Chair of the ASCO Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Special Interest Group; Dr. Edna Chun, Chief Learning Officer, HigherEd Talent, and author of numerous books including “Leading a Diversity Culture Shift in Higher Education” (2018); Dr. Rustin Moore, Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine and Ruth Stanton Chair in Veterinary Medicine, Department of Veterinary Clinical Services, The Ohio State University.
The session will be moderated by representatives of each of the three sponsoring associations, Dr. Cynthia Heard, Professor of Optometry, Southern College of Optometry and Chair, AAO Diversity Task Force; Dr. Sherrol Reynolds, Associate Professor and Chief, Retina and Primary Care Clinic at Nova Southeastern University and President, National Optometric Association; and Dr. Karla Zadnik, Glenn A. Fry Professor of Optometry and Physiological Optics and Dean at The Ohio State University College of Optometry. The program will feature a question and answer wrap-up at the conclusion of the presentations.
About The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)
The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) advances optometric education and research to enhance the health and well-being of the public. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Rockville, MD, ASCO is committed to achieving excellence in optometric education and to helping its member institutions prepare well-qualified graduates for entrance into the profession of optometry. Its membership encompasses the schools and colleges of optometry in the United States. A number of optometry schools outside the United States are affiliate and associate members.
About American Academy of Optometry (AAO)
The American Academy of Optometry (AAO) inspires excellence in optometric practice by fostering research and disseminating knowledge in vision science through its journal, Optometry and Vision Science, and the continuing education presented at its annual meeting. Fellows of the Academy are committed to the premise that learning is a lifelong obligation of a professional, as is the commitment to expand the profession’s knowledge base through ongoing fellowship and exchange. For more information, visit the website: www.aaopt.org
About The National Optometric Association (NOA)
The National Optometric Association (NOA), founded in 1969, is dedicated to the optometric profession and service to the underserved through our mission of, “Advancing the Visual Health of Minority Populations.” The NOA is comprised primarily of minority optometrists from throughout the United States. The NOA continues to develop programs and initiatives to help improve diversity in school and colleges of optometry, scholarships, mentorship and partnerships to increase awareness about eye diseases, and outreach to underserved communities. More information about the NOA is available online at: https://nationaloptometricassociation.com