Rod W. Nowakowski, O.D., Ph.D., who has served as interim dean or dean of the school since 2009, has announced his retirement but plans to stay at his post until his successor is named, according to UAB Provost Linda Lucas.
“I am grateful for Dean Nowakowski’s nearly four decades of service to UAB and am pleased with his commitment to remain in leadership until a new dean is named,” Lucas said. “That dedication is the cornerstone of his legacy of tremendous service as a clinician, researcher, educator and administrator.”
The dean of Optometry reports to the Office of the Provost; Lucas said work is underway to name a committee that will conduct a nationwide search for Nowakowski’s successor.
“I expect that our committee will have a very talented pool of applicants from across the country,” Lucas said. “This is an exciting time to be at UAB, and the next dean will have opportunities to be a part of strategic, aggressive contributions we are making to the global knowledge-based economy.”
A three-time graduate of UAB, Nowakowski earned his bachelor’s degree in Physiological Optics in 1973, as well as his doctor of optometry degree in 1975 as a member of one of the first classes of the newly established School of Optometry. He was also in the charter class of the Ph.D. program in Medical Genetics created at UAB by Drs. Sara and Wayne Finley, earning that degree in 1989. He joined the faculty at UAB as chief of Low Vision Rehabilitation Service and later became director of Ocular Disease and Low Vision Service within the school. In 2000, he was named chief of staff for UAB Eye Care, a leadership position responsible for all clinical activities of the school.
“From my time as a student at UAB to my time as dean, I have seen and had a hand in transformational growth in the institution and in the School of Optometry,” Nowakowski said. “As I enter retirement, I will watch the continued success of this school and institution with great pride. In the meantime, we are not going to coast during the dean search. I am surrounded by great faculty and staff, and we will continue our progress.”
The School of Optometry, traditionally one of the top recipients of outside research funding in the country, graduated its first class in 1973 and has awarded more than 1,300 Doctor of Optometry degrees, 322 residency-completion certificates, 62 master’s degrees and 58 doctorate degrees.