Below you can find a list of strategic actions and goals outlined in the Diversity and Inclusion Master Plan (DIMP) and the achievements in relation to each goal. These accomplishments were only possible due to the dedication of our staff, faculty, the College’s leadership, and student organizations who are devoted and passionate about furthering the College’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. They were also possible due to the devotion of resources from the College, the SUNY System, and private funders.

Goal 1. Increase the recruitment of minority students to the professional OD and graduate programs
Strategy Measure Update
Strategy 1. Devise a recruitment strategy that is increasingly targeted at attracting and enrolling underrepresented minority and economically disadvantaged students Assess the profiles of our current URM and economically disadvantaged students and alumni and identify what characterizes their experience; use findings to devise recruitment strategies and refine message

  • Measure: Profiles analyzed,focus groups with students conducted, and findings translated into actionable items; responsible: CDO, Admissions
The Office of Student Affairs successfully developed profiles of current and prospective students. The analysis included URM applicants per state; URM deposits by state; survey of OAT Takers. Key findings included:

  • URMs from the State of New York are most likely to apply and enroll if admitted.
  • Proximity to family is a top influence for URM applicants
  • Visible diversity among the student body, faculty, staff, and patients are top influencers for URM applicants
Strategy 1.a. Reinvigorate the IDEA and Explore campaign by targeting URM serving schools, particularly those with a history of success in providing the College with minority applicants Measure: Recruitment strategies reviewed and recruitment materials developed and sent to targeted schools; responsible: Office of Student Affairs, Admissions [OSA] IDEA was rebranded to Vision Board; Six student influencers were recruited to post on expand followership and influence; a part-time graduate intern was hired thru SUNY’s Performance Improvement Funds (PIF) funds to manage the platform and implement other URM related programs. (Funding for position cut by State due to COVID)
Strategy 1.b. Update database of minority serving organizations Measure: Database created and periodically updated; responsible: OSA, Admissions Ongoing
Strategy 1.c. Continue to recruit URMs from minority serving colleges nationwide Measure: Number of visits to URM serving schools; responsible: OSA Admissions regularly visit minority serving institutions or organizations, including High Schools (e.g. City College, Fordham University, Philip A. Randolph High School
In the past 3 years, we recruited at the following minority serving institutions:

  • Clark Atlanta University (HBCU)
  • Florida International University (HSI)
  • Florida Atlantic University (HSI)
  • Nova Southeastern University (HSI)
  • University of Arizona (HSI)
  • San Diego State University (HSI)
  • University of California – Irvine (HSI)
  • University of California – Santa Barbara (HSI)
  • CUNY Hunter College (HSI)
  • CUNY City College (HSI)
  • CUNY Queens College (HSI)
  • Morehouse College (HBCU)
  • Spelman College (HBCU)

The College develops customized programs for URMs from partner colleges, including Fordham, Hunter, Adelphi University, Barnard, LeMoyne, Lehman, and NYU to name a few.

CSTEP participates in the statewide professional school fair at the Sagamore in Bolton Landing, NY every April, to recruit from more than 45 colleges throughout the State.

Strategy 2. Hackathon successfully implemented in Sept 2018; report with generated ideas created and shared with participants; ideas selected based on feasibility are currently being implemented. Measure: Send survey to target audience inquiring about interest in attending such an event and preferred time of year (by March 2017); Proposal drafted and presented to potential funding sources (i.e., OCNY; proposal sent by April 2017); Hackathon successfully executed by fall 2017 or spring 2018; responsible: OSA, Admissions, Director of Career Development and Minority Enrichment.
Strategy 3. Tap into URM alumni network to assist the College with recruitment. Have our minority graduates who are currently practicing to advocate for Optometry by giving talks about their personal experiences in Optometry at undergraduate schools Measure: Create campaign to reach out to alumni; responsible: OSA, Admissions, Alumni Affairs URM Alumni invited to speak at New Student Orientation, CSTEP internship, CSTEP Symposium, and programming now involves many of the College’s URM alumni.
Alumni Ambassador Program discussed with Alumni relations; Postcards to be sent to alumni created and printed in Spring 2020; implementation pending.
Strategy 4. Explore the potential benefit of reaching out to secondary school level as a means to recruit URM students. Measure: Feasibility study with recommendations presented to Dr. Heath; responsible: Director of Career Development and Minority Enrichment, OSA Directors of Admissions and Minority enrichment program have visited high schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens alongside CSTEP students; As of 2018, CSTEP has focused particularly on 2 high schools: BASE High School in Brooklyn, and August Martin High School in Queens, both schools with a high URM population.
Strategy 5. Study the possibility of offering internships as Career Exploration Opportunities to students who are making career choices Measure: Feasibility study with recommendations presented to Dr. Heath; responsible: Director of Career Development and Minority Enrichment, OSA Strategy not explicitly explored, though CSTEP is considered an “exploratory” opportunity, specifically in the profession of Optometry
Strategy 6. Modify the CSTEP program to include a welcoming panel session with faculty from URM to help URM students feel part of the optometry community Measure: Panel successfully implemented by next CSTEP program; responsible: Director of Career Development and Minority Enrichment, OSA SUNY URM students are involved in CSTEP programs, from giving tours, to being on a panel, to running a session like “The Basics of an Eye Exam.”
Faculty and staff are invited to orientations and concluding lunches for CSTEP programs, as well as participation in lectures to students. Low number of URM faculty present challenges.

CSTEP program is utilizing College’s alumni network to compensate for low number of URM faculty. Currently, CSTEP students have opportunity to attend private practice tours, and many tours are intentionally with URM ODs. A few students have also acquired mentorship and jobs through this initiative.

Goal 2. Increase the recruitment of minority faculty
Strategy Measure Update
Strategy 1. Develop, through the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA), a mentorship program for enrolled minority students to discuss career paths and benefits of a career in academia; organize residency information sessions. Measure: Mentorship program successfully created; responsible: Director of Career Development and Minority Enrichment, CDO Each year, the Director of Career Services and Minority Enrichment invites 3rd and 4th year students to join the mentorship program and match them up with an OD of their choice.
The College began a student support called SUNY Irises where URM students are supported by study groups, networking and professional development opportunities, “take a break” events, and KMK Parts I, II, and III support. Working with NOSA, we have tried to promote peer mentoring and aclinical tutoring program run by NOSA.

  • A new annual residency program, “Residency Showcase,” has been created since 2018. The program offers valuable information from current residents on how to successfully apply to and select residency programs.
Strategy 2. Examine recruitment and interview strategies that could increase the likelihood of increasing recruitment of URMfaculty. Measure: Recruitment and interview strategies identified and adopted by recruiting committees; responsible: Academic Affairs, CDO, Chief Medical Officer The College successfully developed and submitted to System the College’s PRODIG proposal, an initiative by the State to increase URM representation in faculty positions and women in STEM; The CDO has periodically posted job openings on the National Optometric Association (NOA) Monthly Newsletter. The NOA is a national association with the mission of “advancing the visual health of minority populations.” SUNY Optometry informs the NOA of faculty and staff job openings at the College and the NOA distributes these job opportunities to its members through emails and its monthly newsletter
Strategy 3. Work in collaboration with faculty search committee to develop more effective faculty recruitment strategies. Measure: Recruitment guidelines created; responsible: Academic Affairs, Human Resources, Director of Residency Program The Academic Dean has been involved in development of the PRODIG proposal; further conversations with faculty hiring committee needed. Hiring frozen due to COVID19.
Goal 3. Continue to provide support services for minority students that promote growth, development, and expand career choices
Strategy Measure Update
Strategy 1. Explore ways to expand meaningful support to URM as well as economically disadvantaged students. The Office of Student Affairs successfully applied and was granted 3 Performance Improvement Funds (PIF) grants–SUNY System sponsored mini grants geared towards Diversity and Inclusion. The grants were focused on recruitment, retention, and support services for URM and economically disadvantaged students. The three sponsored projects were:

  • Hackathon (recruitment)
  • Student Support Services (SUNY Irises) (retention/support services)

  • Vision Board (recruitment)

Since its inception, SUNY Irises has provided support services for URM and economically disadvantaged students in many forms:

  • 21 students given grants for KMK Prep Parts I/II
  • 4 students supported with Part NBEO Part III
  • 9 NOSA officers sent to NOA
  • 8 SUNY Irises travel grants to Academy of Optometry (2019)
  • 90 SUNY Irises members attended over 5 “Take a Break” events
  • 26 SUNY Irises students (3rd and 4th years) matched with mentors in Family of Mentors program
  • 10 Wills Eye Manuals awarded for students starting clinic
Strategy 2. Continue to build a positive environment and sense of belonging through existing mechanisms and programming (i.e., orientation, clubs and organizations). Measure: Periodic review of climate survey and other survey instruments that measure student engagement (i.e., Exit Survey); responsible: OSA With feedback from NOSA, New Student Orientation has been completely revamped to include free activities around NYC. A session entitled “Valuing Differences” has been added to Orientation in 2019. In 2020, this session was co-presented with the president of NOSA. Further more, SUNY Irises assists in the effort of building an inclusive and supportive environment; The OSA has worked directly with NOSA leadership to explore and implement opportunities to increase the visibility and integration of URM students in the community; A climate survey implemented for first year class. Results of the climate survey were presented during the Faculty Annual Retreat meeting.
Strategy 3. Create an experiential learning event where optometry students are offered the possibility to engage in solving problems relevant to their communities. Measure: Create and execute successful event; responsible: OSA A course on leadership has been successfully created and launched. This course allows students to work on experiential projects of their choice.
Goal 4. Develop and implement solutions to increase student, faculty, staff, and patients’ experience of diversity, inclusion, and equity that are data driven and evidence based
Strategy Measure Update
Strategy 1. Increase awareness of issues of diversity, inclusion, cross-cultural communications, and unconscious bias by providing yearly training to faculty, staff, and students, particularly to managers. Measure: Workshop(s) successfully delivered; responsible: CDO, Human Resources In 2019, hiring managers and members of the admissions committee received training on Cultural Humility provided by an external consulting group (Pearl Buck Foundation)
The creation of a diverse CSTEP advisory committee and hiring an assistant is part of the new CSTEP grant (will prioritize someone in the URM population).
Strategy 2. Create a task force to address issues related to staff and faculty morale Measure: Task force created and concrete steps taken to address morale issues; responsible: CDO, Human Resources, Academic Affairs COACHE survey implemented by Academic Affairs; a COACHE committee was formed; areas of improvement identified and discussed with COACHE committee.
Strategy 3. Revitalize NOSA as a vital student-led platform for diversity and inclusion programming Measure: Periodic meetings between VP for Student Affairs and NOSA leadership; attend NOSA national conferences; responsible: CDO Director of Minority Enrichment has worked closely with NOSA to implement programs, like the clinical tutoring program, provided grants for NOSA Board Members to attend NOA conference each year (10 NOSA students have been sent to NOA since 2018), AAO (8 students were given grants to attend AAO in 2019), support programs like “Taste of NOSA”
Strategy 4. To study ways in which diversity and inclusion can be integrated into employees’ annual review process. Measure: Academic Affairs, Human Resources, and CDO agree on a potential strategy and present it to the College’s president for approval; responsible: Academic Affairs, Human Resources, and CDO President has included Diversity as part of Management Confidential Performance Review Plan; Discussions to add diversity to UUP performance review plan were had between CDO and director of HR (Doug Schading), but no further action was taken as it involved union involvement
Strategy 5. Examine the College website to include multicultural and inclusive activities Measure: Audit of the website conducted, ; responsible: Director of Communication, Diversity and Inclusion Planning Committee Website for CDO successfully created.
Strategy 6. Develop promotional and educational material for LGBTQ+ community Measure: Promotional and educational materials successfully created and made available to patients/doctors/students; responsible: Clinical Administration, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Academic Affairs SPECTRUM, in collaboration with the office of the CDO, sponsored workshop The Transgender Patient: Informed, Effective, and Respectful Communication.
The intent of this Lunch & Learn was to help students and providers better understand and effectively communicate with transgender patients.
Strategy 7. Update UEC check-in materials to be more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community Measure: Check-in materials successfully adapted and made available to patients; responsible: Clinical Administration Check-in materials updated to include gender identity;
Zero tolerance policy implemented for any requests for specific providers for any reason that could be considered discriminatory (e.g., race and sexual orientation); exceptions are only made for religious reasons.
Strategy 8. Capitalize on SUNY System sponsored initiatives including grants, workshops that promote diversity and inclusion. Measure: Keep abreast of opportunity offered by SUNY system and capitalize on those; responsible: CDO Grants were pursued and successfully received (PIF + new CSTEP grant). Industry co-sponsored Board prep grants in conjunction with SUNY Irises. 14 students received grants worth over $13,000. We hope to continue this initiative into the foreseeable future.
CDO, Director of Admissions, CSTEP Director have attended diversity conference at the SUNY level.
Strategy 9. Re-implement the Tool for Assessing Cultural Competence Training (TACCT) to reassess potential curricular adjustments and to address components identified in the previous TACCT. Measure: TACCT survey successfully conducted, changes proposed; responsible: Academic Affairs, CDO Pearl Buck Foundation’s Diversity Inventory used to measure cultural competency of selected hiring managers and members of the admissions committee; one-one coaching offered to each participant.