SUNY College of Optometry Highlights 50-Year Anniversary Achievements

July 1, 2022

Commencement ceremony brought SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley and other notable figures center stage

MEDIA CONTACT: Dawn Rigney | | 212-938-5600

NEW YORK, NY – The State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry celebrated the close of its 50-year anniversary this month with the Class of 2022 Commencement ceremony, honoring both the Class of 2022’s outstanding academic achievements, devotion to service, and professional preeminence, and the College’s legacy as an exceptional optometric education and professional development institution in New York. A new ceremonial mace was commissioned and presented at this year’s commencement to honor Optometry’s continued excellence.

SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley’s attendance at the commencement ceremony marked the first time in over fifteen years a College of Optometry graduation was attended by a SUNY chancellor. Chancellor Stanley presented the 2022 Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence (CASE) to SUNY students who epitomized academic excellence and leadership. This year’s winners included Stephanie Schwartz of Woodbury, NY, and Julie Song of Tempe, AZ of SUNY Optometry’s Class of 2022.

“It was unprecedented to have such a notable dais with Chancellor Stanley, former assembly member Aravella Simotas, Senator Jamaal Bailey, and Dr. Thomas Norton present to celebrate our 50 years of achievement and the Class of 2022. This follows an incredible 50th Anniversary Celebration, the official dedication of our Barbara Saltzman Center for Pediatric Eye Care, and several other spring events,” said SUNY Optometry President Dr. David A. Heath. “Each year brings with it the unwavering honor to both acknowledge and uplift the phenomenal work achieved by our exceptional SUNY Optometry students and alumni, who continue to exemplify dedication to service, education, and professionalism within the field of optometry and vision science.”

Following Commencement, SUNY College of Optometry’s Alumni Association also recognized prominent alumni, including Dr. Jason Compton, who continue to do

extraordinary work advancing the profession, volunteering in their community, and supporting the College. New this year, the Rising Star Award recognized the entire Alumni Class of 2020 as the inaugural award winners. Several members of the class even wore caps and gowns as they crossed the stage to receive their award resembling the interrupted graduation ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The awardees then joined additional alumni for the 2022 Alumni Reunion which took place on June 11, at the Edison Rooftop.

This year also marked the completion of SUNY’s 47th Annual Residency Program. The Residency Class of 2022 included 42 residents, representing one of the largest and longest running optometric residency programs in the country. The keynote speaker and Distinguished Alumni Resident of the Year was Dr. Richard Soden ’79 who spoke about the impact of residency on his long-time career. Dr. Soden was the first resident placed at the VA Northport Medical Center.


About SUNY Optometry
Founded in 1971 and located in New York City, the State University of New York College of Optometry is a leader in education, research, and patient care, offering the Doctor of Optometry degree as well as MS and PhD degrees in vision science. The College conducts a robust program of basic, translational, and clinical research and has over 65 affiliated clinical training sites as well as an on-site clinic, the University Eye Center. The Optometric Center of New York serves as the College’s affiliated philanthropic foundation securing resources to support the mission of the College. SUNY Optometry is regionally accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools; its four-year professional degree program and residency programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association. All classrooms, research facilities and the University Eye Center, which is one of the largest optometric outpatient facilities in the nation, are located on 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan. To learn more about SUNY Optometry, visit