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May 12, 2014

SUNY Optometry Prepares for its 40th Commencement

On Sunday, June 1, the SUNY College of Optometry will hold its 40th commencement. The day's events will begin with the College's annual awards ceremony for students in the Schwarz Theatre in the morning with commencement at the Hudson Theatre in Midtown Manhattan during the afternoon. A total of 76 students will receive degrees at the ceremony.

Dr. Jacob Nachmias, an emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania, will receive an honorary degree. Ms. Ronda Kotelchuck, the founding CEO of the Primary Care Development Corporation, will address the graduates. SUNY Optometry's Dr. Robert Duckman will receive the inaugural Presidential Medallion in recognition of his service to the College.


Here’s a closer look at Dr. Nachmias, Ms. Kotelchuck and Dr. Duckman:

Dr. Jacob Nachmias
Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Jacob Nachmias is arguably the scientist most responsible for the experimental work upon which our modern understanding of spatial (or “pattern”) vision is based. Spatial or pattern vision is the first step in visual perception after the eyes send retinal image information to the brain. 

Throughout his career, Dr. Nachmias’s work has been widely recognized for its cleverness of experimental design, careful attention to detail and technical precision. His seminal insights into functional vision have had a profound influence on other leaders in the field, and through his legacy of research, teaching and mentorship, he serves as a powerful role model for students.

Dr. Nachmias has been honored with elected membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the Edgar D. Tillyer Award from the Optical Society of America. He received his AB degree from Cornell University, his MA from Swarthmore College and his PhD from Harvard University.


Ms. Ronda Kotelchuck
Commencement Speaker

Ms. Ronda Kotelchuck is the founding CEO of the Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC). Under her leadership, PCDC, a US Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institution, has financed more than 100 primary care projects totaling $485 million and modernized more than 925,000 square feet of space. PCDC has also provided performance improvement training and coaching to nearly 900 primary care organizations throughout the United States, helping to transform the delivery and quality of primary care services in low-income communities.

In August 2011, Ms. Kotelchuck was invited to participate as a member of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team Payment Reform Workgroup; a committee selected to develop recommendations to reduce costs and increase quality and efficiency in New York’s Medicaid Program.

Ms. Kotelchuck is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, co-chair of the Hermann Biggs Society, a member of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Advisory Council and a member of the California Health Care Foundation/Center for Health Care Design’s Advisory Committee on Safety Net Clinic Design.

She is a recipient of the Haven Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award, the Paul Ramos Memorial Award, and the Avedis Donabedian Healthcare Quality Award. Ms. Kotelchuck received her BA from Lewis and Clark College, and her MRP from Cornell University.


Dr. Robert Duckman
Presidential Medallion

The Presidential Medallion is a newly created award given for the first time this year. It is designed 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. Robert Duckman became a founding member of the SUNY College of Optometry faculty on August 1, 1971, shortly after receiving his OD degree from the New England College of Optometry. During the ensuing 43 years, Dr. Duckman devoted himself to the College by educating several generations of students and perhaps, most critically, by enhancing and advancing our understanding of pediatric vision. During his tenure at the College Dr. Duckman achieved the rank of professor and served in numerous roles including chair of the Department of Vision Sciences, director of the Children with Special Needs Clinic and chief of the Infant’s Vision Service. He is a recipient of the 2008, Satmar Bikur Cholim, Physician of the Year Award, as well as a 2010 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service.

He has published widely and served as editor and contributor to the 2006 textbook “Vision Development, Diagnosis and Treatment of the Pediatric Patient.” He has also participated as a member of the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG) since its inception in 1997. Dr. Duckman is also widely sought out as speaker in both the United States and abroad.

In addition to his OD degree, Dr. Duckman received a BA in Biology-Chemistry from Queens College and an MA in Psychology from the New School for Social Research.