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June 5, 2013

SUNY Optometry Honors Dr. Jia Qu, Celebrates Student Achievement at 39th Commencement

On Sunday, June 2 the SUNY College of Optometry conducted its 39th commencement exercises at the historic Hudson Theatre in midtown Manhattan. Seventy-five graduates from the Class of 2013 received their OD degrees, dual OD/MS degrees or PhD degrees during the afternoon event.

SUNY Optometry president, Dr. David A. Heath told the graduates that they had met the challenge of a vigorous education and thanked faculty, family and other members of the College community for helping the Class of 2013 succeed.

An honorary Doctor of Science degree was awarded by SUNY at the ceremony to Dr. Jia Qu, professor and president of the Wenzhou Medical University (WMU) in Wenzhou, China. During his remarks after accepting his degree Dr. Qu, who has led WMU for the past quarter century, noted the significant progress that optometry has made in China in recent years, a development that he attributed, in part, to the cooperation between institutions like WMU and SUNY Optometry. In 2008 the College established the Center of Excellence in Low Vision and Vision Rehabilitation at WMU and has maintained a strong relationship with the institution in recent years.

Dr. Qu being hooded during the ceremony

The commencement address was given by Dr. Melvin Shipp, dean of The Ohio State University College of Optometry. Dr. Shipp, who in 2011 became the first optometrist to lead the American Public Health Association, the world’s oldest, largest and most diverse organization of public health professionals, reminded the graduates about the debt that they owe—to family, loved ones, peers and others—for their success and urged the new doctors to continuously work to pay this debt back through their actions.

“Your new status brings with it the responsibility for not only protecting the health and welfare of others, but also enabling those less fortunate than yourself,” Dr. Shipp told the graduates. “Involve yourself in organizations that promote and advance your profession, but also, and perhaps more importantly, the less fortunate in your community.”

During the commencement ceremony Dr. Susan Fisher, president of the New York State Optometric Association (NYSOA), awarded Dr. Frank Pirozzolo the NYSOA’s “Optometrists of the Year” award and his son, Dr. Raymond Pirozzolo the NYSOA’s “Young Optometrist of the Year” award. In addition, SUNY alumna Dr. Julia Appel, president of SUNY Optometry’s Alumni Association, announced that 1989 graduate Dr. Jillia E. Bird has been awarded the honor of “Alumna  of the Year” which will be presented to Dr. Bird during the College’s Envision New York weekend in October.

Dr. Shipp during the procession

During the beginning of the hour-long ceremony, the “Star Spangled Banner” was performed by SUNY student Raha Fahimi. Following a welcome from President Heath, Tammy Thuy Dang, the president of the Class of 2013, offered greetings from the graduating class as well as words of encouragement and thanks to her peers and to those in attendance.    

At a separate ceremony at the College that morning a series of awards were given to various members of the Class of 2013, including the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellent which was awarded to both Antonio Chirumbolo and Irene A. Tran. Additional academic and clinical awards, service awards and professional distinction awards were also handed out during the ceremony which was followed by a pre-commencement brunch at the College’s newly completed Center for Student Life and Learning.

To view a complete listing of the awards please click here