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June 2, 2014

A Day of Celebration - Commencement 2014

The SUNY College of Optometry awarded a record 80 students with degrees at the Hudson Theatre in Midtown Manhattan on Sunday as the College celebrated its 40th commencement since its establishment in 1971.

The day began with the annual awards ceremony in the College’s Schwarz Theater where 20 graduating students received a total of 26 academic, service and professional distinction awards. (Click here to see the full list of awards.)

“Our reputation is derived from the quality of our students,” Dr. David A. Heath, president of SUNY Optometry, told those gathered for the ceremony as he recognized the significant achievement of the students. Dr. David Troilo, vice president for academic affairs and dean, noted that the Class of 2014 was well known for its academic and leadership prowess, while vice president for student affairs, Dr. Jeffrey Philpott, who presided over the ceremony, reminded the students that they had come to the College the same year that he had and that they had spent the last four years learning and growing together. This year recipients chose faculty members to present their awards to them during the ceremony which helped to create some heartfelt, witty and even a few emotional moments during the course of the one-hour event.

At the afternoon commencement, three students were awarded the PhD in Vision Science, four students were awarded the MS in Vision Science and 76 students received the Doctor of Optometry degree. It represented the largest graduating class in the College’s history.   

President Heath with Ms. Kotelchuck and Dr. Nachmias

During the ceremony, SUNY conferred an honorary degree upon Dr. Jacob Nachmias, professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania and a leader in developing the modern understanding of spatial vision.

This year the College inaugurated the Presidential Medal, awarding it to Dr. Robert Duckman. The Presidential Medal was created to recognize a retiring, full-time faculty member who has devoted the vast majority of his or her career to the College and whose work has made a significant impact in their field. Dr. Duckman joined the faculty of the College when it opened in 1971.

Class of 2014 president, Mitali Sanghani, spoke to her fellow graduates about the camaraderie that they shared and urged her colleagues to use their new careers for good. “We are in a profession that can change lives,” she said. 

This year’s commencement address was given by Ms. Ronda Kotelchuck, the chief executive officer of the Primary Care Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization that works to expand and transform primary health care in underserved communities. Ms. Kotelchuck noted that the graduates would be entering into a health care system that his undergone enormous change recently but also carefully pointed out that they had the opportunity to make an outsized impact within the new system.   

Also during the ceremony, SUNY alumnus Dr. Christopher Colburn, president of the New York State Optometric Association, presented the NYSOA Optometric Educator Award to faculty member Dr. David Krumholz and the NYSOA Optometrist of the Year Award to the president of the College's Alumni Association, Dr. Denise Whittam.

For more information about Dr. Nachmias, Ms. Kotelchuck and Dr. Duckman click here

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Want to see photos? 

  • To view and download photos of commencement click here 
  • ​To view and download photos from the awards ceremony click here

You can also view slideshows of commencement and award ceremony images below: