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2008 Strategic Plan


The State University of New York College of Optometry excels, innovates and leads in Optometry and Vision Science by:

  • Developing outstanding optometrists and vision scientists;
  • Making new discoveries that advance vision science and patient care;
  • Improving patients’ lives by providing exceptional general and specialized optometric care;
  • Enhancing public health through education and service to a broad range of communities.

Goals and Objectives

1.0 Developing Outstanding Optometrists and Vision Scientists

1.1 Goal:  To provide innovative, exciting and attractive educational programs and outstanding co-curricular opportunities that meet the evolving needs of our students and the public


  • Additional masters-level opportunities for students pursuing the OD degree will be developed.
  • Flexibility in the professional curriculum will be introduced that will allow a degree of individual customization through the development of elective courses and clinical experiences.
  • By 2013, on average, at least 50% of the SUNY graduating class will enter residency programs affiliated with colleges of optometry.

1.2  Goal: To deliver clinical education programs which are competency based.


  • Measurable clinical competencies necessary for advancement at each level of the professional degree and residency programs will be defined.
  • Students and residents will be required to demonstrate targeted clinical competencies as a part of their programs.

1.3  Goal: To provide an environment that develops critical thinking and lifelong learning skills.


  • A dynamic professional curriculum will be delivered that is centered on evidence-based care and critical thinking.
  • The use of varied, innovative and pedagogically sound instructional strategies in the professional program will be increased. This will facilitate critical thinking while being sensitive to the diverse learning styles of students.
  • The use of primary research literature will be increased in all programs.

1.4  Goal: To develop future leaders in optometry.


  • The College will develop a postgraduate assessment program to evaluate the effectiveness of its education programs as reflected in career path satisfaction, the assumption of leadership posts and impact on the communities in which our graduates serve.
  • Each “value-added” educational program (PhD, masters, residencies, electives, etc.) will include a leadership development component within its curriculum.
  • The College will develop programs to recognize and reward achievements of leadership among it students, staff, faculty and graduates.

1.5  Goal: To provide students, residents and alumni with the services to succeed in their careers.


  • A Center for Career Development to provide professional career counseling services will be developed.
  • Greater emphasis will be placed on career planning within the professional curriculum and residency programs.
  • Additional programs will be developed that will increase professional program graduates’ access to preferred career paths.

1.6  Goal: To provide residency education that will train individuals to develop advanced clinical competencies to meet current and future healthcare needs.


  • Residency education will be expanded within 5 years to offer at least 6 additional residency positions to optometric graduates.  These new opportunities will reflect the future healthcare needs of the public.
  • An innovative and flexible didactic curriculum will be customized for each clinical residency program and reviewed annually.

1.7  Goal: To become a leader in continuing optometric education.


  • The College will become the first choice for obtaining continuing education credits for the majority of New York State optometrists as determined by periodic surveys.
  • The College will diversify the methods by which it delivers continuing education (e.g., data transfer, internet, webinars and simulcasting of programs).
  • Within five years, 20% of all continuing education will occur via distance learning.

1.8  Goal: To attract and enroll highly qualified students for the professional program.


  • In any year, average scores for each entering class in the professional program, on all sections of the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT), will be in the first quartile of admitted optometry students for that year.
  • Leadership potential and evidence of a strong commitment to community service will be specific criteria for admission to the professional degree program.
  • The attrition rate for academic reasons, in the professional program, will not exceed 5% of students in any one class for the duration of the 4-year program.
  • The College will promote access and affordability through increased student scholarships and grants.
  • The College will endeavor to keep the average total cost of education for students in the lowest quartile relative to similar programs nationally.
  • Based on the results of the 2010-2011 Workforce Study, the entering first-year class will be increased to a maximum of 100 students (revised 03.01.11).

1.9  Goal: To attract and retain highly qualified, full-time faculty members.


  • To compensate both existing and future faculty members at or near discipline-competitive levels adjusted for geographic location and faculty rank.  (The compensation of faculty will be improved to a level equal to or above the average among comparable New York City-based institutions and among comparable institutions nationally.  And, for clinical faculty, a level of compensation that is no less than 20% below other optometry compensation levels in the New York metropolitan area will also be used as an indicator.)
  • A program of awards and recognition for achievements of faculty will be developed.
  • Faculty members will be provided with appropriate development time including sabbatical leaves, opportunities to develop research, teaching and clinical skills.
  • A mentoring system will be established that takes into account both faculty interests and institutional strategic imperatives.

1.10 Goal: To increase cultural sensitivity in all College operations.


  • Participants from groups underrepresented in the profession will be sought in any recruitment programs sponsored by the College.
  • Faculty search processes will be national in scope and will specifically encourage diversity within our community.
  • Programs will be developed to increase cultural competencies in patient care.

1.11 Goal: To encourage, recognize and reward outstanding achievement.


  • The College will develop a recognition program to encourage achievement and outstanding service among its staff.

2.0  Making New Discoveries That Advance Vision Science and Patient Care

2.1  Goal:  To develop and maintain the most productive basic and clinical research programs among schools and colleges of Optometry.


  • Within 5 years, SUNY Optometry will reach $5 million per year in externally funded research grants including at least 1 center/training grant.
  • By 2013, there will be at least 10 faculty members holding major National Institutes of Health research grants (R01 or equivalent grants) and at least three of them will be clinical in nature.
  • By 2013, there will be three faculty or graduate students with National Institute of Health Clinician Development awards (“K” awards) of which at least 1 will be patient-based.
  • Over the next 5 years, at least 100 research papers will be published in peer-reviewed journals and at least 10 publications will appear in high-impact journals.
  • Over the next 5 years, at least 100 patient-based papers will be published in Index Medicus listed journals.
  • Over the next 5 years, at least 3 basic science discoveries from SUNY Optometry will be recognized as seminal by the field.
  • At least 2 significant applications of basic research to clinical problems will appear in publications authored by faculty or students.
  • The College will produce at least 3 clinical contributions that alter or influence standards of clinical care in the practice of optometry.
  • Groundbreaking research will be supported by fostering research collaborations.
  • The application of basic research to clinical vision problems will be facilitated.

2.2  Goal: To establish a Center for Clinical Research


  • Groundbreaking clinical research will be promoted by recruiting faculty whose research is supported by National Institutes of Health research grants (R01 or equivalent) in patient-based areas.
  • Opportunities for clinicians to participate in research will be enhanced by forming a research-based institutional career path and providing research mentoring and support in experimental design, statistics, technology infrastructure and access to the clinical population.
  • Translational research will be developed through innovative means, such as funding pilot projects for graduate program faculty, recruiting a researcher who is developing technology that translates existing basic research activity and/or supporting a nationally competitive clinical fellowship in translational research methods.

2.3  Goal:  To provide resources to attract and retain outstanding research faculty.


  • Endowed chairs to support the recruitment and maintenance of outstanding research faculty will be developed.
  •  New faculty will be recruited in research areas that are transforming basic science and are likely to advance vision care (e.g., retinal and brain imaging, molecular genetics, extra-striate cortical studies, computational vision, visual-motor interactions, biophysics, cell signaling and development of eye growth and refractive state).
  • In-house imaging facilities will be expanded for basic and clinical research, including retinal, single cell and cortical surface imaging.
  • Access to fMRI facilities at neighboring institutions will be provided.
  • The College will compete actively for New York State funds targeted towards recruiting scientists and graduate students.
  • There will be increased collaboration with other colleges through the establishment of a visiting professor program.
  • Projects that require funding between grant application cycles will be supported as is reasonable and appropriate.

2.4  Goal:  To enhance the PhD program in Vision Science.


  • PhD training and research activities will be arranged into interdisciplinary functional themes (e.g., image forming mechanisms of the eye, retinal mechanisms for acquisition and transmission of visual information, cortical mechanisms for extraction and interpretation of visual information, oculomotor and visuomotor interactions).
  • Outstanding PhD students and post-docs will be attracted by implementing a new research-oriented curriculum.
  • Stipends will be offered that are competitive with similar programs.
  • The graduate programs will become an international nexus for vision research by hosting national and international vision conferences.
  • The College will create an identity for the graduate program in vision science to increase its visibility.
  • PhD applications will be coordinated with the admissions process used for the OD program for both recruitment and electronic processing of applications.
  • Student and faculty interaction with each other and with other scientists within the New York City area will be improved.

2.5 Goal: To integrate the OD/MS Program in Vision Science with clinical research and the development of clinical faculty


  • By 2013, 25% of students graduating from the OD./MS program will have joined the faculty at a school or college of optometry, be with another academic institution or be otherwise engaged in research as a part of their professional responsibilities.
  • All OD/MS students will be expected to publish their theses in peer-reviewed journals and to present at a national conference.
  • Basic science and clinical faculty sharing mentorship of students will be encouraged.
  • The College will develop and implement a contemporary clinical-research-oriented curriculum that provides a sound basis for the pursuit of clinical research and clinical teaching activities.
  • OD/MS students will be strategically linked to clinically relevant projects and involve clinical faculty that will address the future needs of optometric education and patient care. Coursework and research activities will be integrated with the PhD program in order to foster research collaboration between the 2 programs and to allow for smooth transitions from the MS to the PhD program.

3.0  Improving Patients’ Lives by Providing Exceptional General and Specialized Optometric Care

3.1  Goal: To provide clinical programs that attract a large, diverse patient population to support clinical education and enhance the visual welfare of the community.


  • Increased public awareness of SUNY/UEC as a primary resource for eye/vision care needs will be increased.
  • The UEC will expand its ability to support clinical activity at off-site locations in support of underserved communities.
  • The UEC will expand its Homebound Program outside of Manhattan to reach an additional 1,000 patients per year.
  • The UEC will increase its annual patient visits to 85,000 by 2013, reflecting an average annual growth of 5%.
  • The UEC will increase visits via the Referral Service to 3,000 per year by 2013.
  • The UEC will expand support groups and patient education programs in order for patients to be active participants in the care process.
  • Students and faculty will be educated on options available to patients who are either uninsured or underinsured.
  • Annual financial assistance for patients in need will increase by 20% per year through 2013.

3.2  Goal: To provide clinical care that is contemporary, efficient, ethical and of the highest quality.


  • Expansion of clinical services will occur in the areas of rehabilitation, geriatrics and ocular disease, special testing and imaging.
  • Clinical faculty, staff and students will demonstrate cultural competency and sensitivity.
  • The UEC will provide in-house emergency eyecare on a 24/7 basis.
  • The UEC will develop and implement a comprehensive compliance program.
  • The UEC’s programs and clinical outcomes will achieve nationally recognized performance standards of excellence.

3.3  Goal: To train interns, residents and faculty to function as members of an integrated health care team.


  • Additional opportunities will be offered for students to provide care with other primary healthcare providers and relevant professionals.
  • Students and residents will demonstrate clinical competency in the co-management of systemic diseases that are relevant to optometric practice.
  • An affiliation will be established with a local comprehensive healthcare entity to facilitate integrated patient care.

4.0  Enhancing Public Health Through Education and Service to a Broad Range of Communities

4.1  Goal: To increase SUNY Optometry’s international presence.


  • The College will establish a Center for International Studies dedicated to the advancement of vision care worldwide.
  • Affiliations will be established with at least 5 educational entities in foreign countries.
  • Within 5 years, at least 30% of fourth-year students will experience foreign clinical rotations each year.
  • The College will host at least 2 foreign visiting faculty members for on-site programs each year.
    In collaboration with its foreign affiliates, SUNY faculty will present at least 25 days of educational programs abroad annually.
  • Affiliations with foreign institutions will include opportunities for collaboration on basic science or clinical research projects.
  • A feasibility study will be conducted to determine whether or not the College should develop a special OD program for foreign-trained optometrists and/or PhD or MD faculty at affiliated foreign institutions.

4.2  Goal: To promote public health.


  • The College will conduct at least 20 vision screenings per year.
  • The UEC will develop a speakers network on a variety of topics relating to eye and vision care to be available on its website as a community resource.
  • The College will become a member of local/regional healthcare and/or public health related associations.
  • Public health awareness campaigns for faculty, staff and students will be established.
  • The UEC will review its current clinical affiliation agreements every 2 years to determine whether or not its resources are being maximized to best serve the unmet eye and vision care needs in metropolitan New York City and throughout New York State.
  • The UEC will meet with corporate/community neighbors to promote collaborative efforts to enhance the visual well-being of their constituents through public education and clinical care.
  • The College will further develop collaborative relationships within its communities.