The College conducted its 42nd commencement last Thursday, honoring the achievements of our Class of 2016 and welcoming them into our community of doctors and vision scientists. Of course, commencement provides a wonderful opportunity to recognize and reflect on the tremendous academic and clinical achievements of our students. Their hard work and perseverance through a challenging program certainly deserves our accolades.
But there is something else that our graduates learn here—beyond what they gain from their time in our classrooms and clinics—that is critical for their success. One of our strategic goals at the College is to instill and nurture leadership skills in those who pass through our doors. And to be clear, this isn’t some trite, boilerplate statement. It is our vital responsibility. Not only as a way to insure our students’ own successes, but also to help insure that the profession of optometry continues to grow and thrive in a changing landscape.
Some of the best examples of leadership come from our very own community. In fact, this July we’ll be honoring a member of our Class of 1984, Dr. Andrea Thau, as she is installed as president of the American Optometric Association in Boston. And in this issue of FY Eye, you can read a Q&A with one of our faculty members, Dr. Barry Tannen, who was recently installed as president of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. You can also read about some trailblazing research conducted by Distinguished Professor Jose-Manuel Alonso and his team.
These are just a few recent examples of how our alumni and faculty are not only directly contributing to the profession of optometry but helping to drive it forward in new and meaningful ways. There are many more examples of this kind of leadership from across our community of alumni, faculty, staff and students; much of it highlighted in past issues of FY Eye.
These examples of leadership “in action” offer an invaluable lesson for the Class of 2016—and indeed all of our students—as they think about their careers and the roles that they hope to play in shaping the future of our profession.
Congratulations to the Class of 2016. I look forward to celebrating their successes in the years to come.
David A. Heath, OD, EdM
P.S. To see how SUNY Optometry has been doing its part to support the 'SUNY's Got Your Back' campaign