UAB OPTOMETRY 50 Spectrum 2

The UAB School of Optometry is recognizing our 50th Anniversary by sharing 50 UABSO historic facts. The people and events highlighted were compiled by the Emeritus Committee, which consists of Drs. Robert Rutstein, Jimmy Bartlett, John Amos, John Classe and Thomas Norton. They have worked together for several months selecting photos and writing the content that is highlighted.

Dr. Peters Retires 1986: 17 years of success at 70 years old

Dr. Peters Retires 1986: 17 years of success at 70 years old

Dr. Peters announced his retirement in 1986 having served as the founding Dean of the UABSO for 17 years. Dr. Peters’ leadership, not only at UABSO but in and beyond the profession, had a profound impact on optometric education. Programs instituted at UABSO served as a model that many optometric schools and colleges adopted.

Faculty has published more than 30 books on clinical optometry and vision science

Faculty has published more than 30 books on clinical optometry and vision science

In the mid-1980s and over the next 30 years, UABSO faculty published more than 30 books on clinical optometry and vision science. This visibility of the faculty through these books that are utilized all over the world served to establish the UABSO’s reputation to an even greater extent within the profession.

Students required to pass parts 1&2 of the National Board of Optometry before receiving their Doctor of Optometry degree from UABSO

Students required to pass parts 1 & 2 of the National Board of Optometry before receiving their Doctor of Optometry degree from UABSO

A significant change was instituted in the requirements for completion of the professional program degree (O.D.) in 1986. Students were now required to pass Parts 1 & 2 of the National Board of Optometry before receiving their Doctor of Optometry degree from UABSO.

Dr. Rober Pharr: Chair of Alabama Board of Optometric Scholarships

Dr. Rober Pharr: Chair of Alabama Board of Optometric Scholarships

The Alabama Board of Optometric Scholarships was approved and funded by the Alabama Legislature in 1982. Dr. Robert Pharr served as the first Chair of this Board which provides scholarships and loans to optometry students. Dr. James Marbourg has served as Chair since 2008. Several significant changes in the law have increased the board’s ability to fund these scholarships and loans.

Full enrollment of 40

Full enrollment of 40

The first class of 40 students was admitted in 1981. The goal of UABSO was to enroll small class sizes with an emphasis on excellence in education. The first student admitted to the Graduate Program in Physiological Optics, Dr. David Lee, graduated in 1981.

Donald A. Springer, OD: The Beginning of a Vision

Donald A. Springer, OD: The Beginning of a Vision

In February 1961 Senator Lister Hill of Alabama introduced a bill entitled the Health Professions Educational Assistance Act in the U. S. Senate. This Act provided significant financial assistance for health care education.

In 1963, Dr. Donald Springer persuaded the ALOA to form a Health Manpower Committee to investigate the need for an increase in the number of optometrists in Alabama.

Dr. Donald Springer from Anniston, AL had served as the President of the American Academy of Optometry and in 1964 testified before Congress relative to the need for an increased workforce in optometry.

Joseph Volker, DDS: Creating direction

Joseph Volker, DDS: Creating Direction

In June 1965 Drs. Springer, Snellgrove, Overton, and Coshatt met with Dr. Volker, Executive Vice-President for Health Affairs of University of Alabama Medical Center to inquire about establishing a school of optometry on the University of Alabama Medical Center campus.

Dr. Volker informed the optometrists that as a land grant university only the Alabama Legislature could approve and fund such a program.

Senator Alton Turner: Supporting the Legislation

Senator Alton Turner: Supporting the Legislation

Drs. Ed Warr and Don Snellgrove secured Senator Alton Turner’s support of legislation to establish a school of optometry.

Senator Turner was widely regarded as the most influential legislator in the state. He was also retained at this time as the Executive Secretary of the ALOA.

Senator Turner, from Luverne, AL, knew the approach he would take to establish such a program that would not require passage of a separate law.

Gov. Lurleen Wallace: Signs the appropriation bill

Gov. Lurleen Wallace: Signs the appropriation bill

Following the Organizational Session of the Alabama Legislature, a Senate Joint Resolution was passed in January 1967 to study the need for an optometry program in Alabama. In June 1967, during the Regular Session, the committee agreed there was a need for such a program. In August 1967, during the Regular Session, the Legislature passed the Educational Appropriation for the State and it was signed into law as Act 383 by Governor Lurleen Wallace on September 6, 1967.

E.A. “Bert” Coshatt, OD: Leading the fund drive

E.A. “Bert” Coshatt, OD: Leading the fund drive

Dr. E. A. “Bert” Coshatt was an active member of the ALOA for many years serving as Chair of the Legal/Legislative Committee and President in 1966- 1967. In 1968, he served as the Chair of the Fund Drive Committee for the University of Alabama School of Optometry Fund. A vigorous effort was begun in 1968 soliciting funds from national, regional, and state optometric organizations, individual optometrists across the U.S., the optical industry, and local businesses. This proved to be a successful fund drive.

E. C. “Doc” Overton, OD: Securing placement at UAB

E. C. “Doc” Overton, OD: Securing placement at UAB

Dr. E. C. “Doc” Overton served for many years as a member of the Birmingham City Council and Chairman of its Education Committee. Dr. Overton obtained many letters and resolutions from city and county governments and other organizations securing the placement of the school of optometry at UAB.

Governor Albert Brewer: Act 91 to secures funding

Governor Albert Brewer: Act 91 to secures funding

In the Special Session of the Alabama Legislature in April 1969, a bill was introduced to make annual appropriations for the support of public education and was passed in May 1969. This appropriation included in the University of Alabama Medical Center’s budget, $200,000 for FY 1970 and $300,000 for FY 1971 for the operation and maintenance of a school of optometry. This bill was approved as Act 91 and signed by Governor Albert Brewer, May 14, 1969, providing funding for the school.

Henry B. Peters, OD: UAB School of Optometry is born

Henry B. Peters, OD: UAB School of Optometry is born

After an extensive search, Dr. Volker announced on August 10, 1969 that Dr. Henry B. Peters had been appointed as the Dean of the UAB School of Optometry. Dr. Peters was Assistant Dean, School of Optometry, University of California, Berkeley. The UAB School of Optometry officially began on September 1, 1969 the same day that UAB became a separate campus as part of the UA System. The first class of the UAB School of Optometry was comprised of eight students and matriculated on Thursday, September 25, 1969.

Life of Georgia Insurance Building: The school’s first home

Life of Georgia Insurance Building: The school’s first home

The Life of Georgia Insurance Building (left) was the first home of the UAB School of Optometry occupying two rooms from 1969-1970. Dr. Peters was the only faculty member when he recruited the first class of optometry students. The first new faculty were recruited in 1970.

University Ambulatory “Outpatient” Center: The Second home

University Ambulatory “Outpatient” Center: The Second home

The first class of eight students was admitted and matriculated on September 25, 1969. The UAB School of Optometry was moved to the University Ambulatory Center in 1970, where it occupied two and one-half floors. One wing of the first floor served as the teaching clinic.

First OD program affiliated with VA Hospital

First OD program affiliated with VA Hospital

On February 2, 1972 the Veteran’s Administration Department of Education and Research formally approved and funded a program for the clinical training of optometry students and optometric technician students in the Birmingham VA Hospital. The approval of an academic affiliation between the UABSO and Birmingham VAH in November 1972 and the establishment of an optometry program in the Birmingham VAH was the first optometry teaching program in the Veteran’s Administration. This program served as a stimulus for the development of other optometry programs in VA facilities with academic affiliations. Currently there are 950 staff optometrists, two fellows, 220 residents and 0ver 1350 externs in the VA system.

Unique clinical externship affiliations

Unique clinical externship affiliations

The UABSO developed several unique clinical rotations for fourth-year interns in addition to assignments in the UABSO teaching clinics. These clinic rotations included: Birmingham VA Hospital, Diabetes Research and Education Hospital, Center for Developmental and Learning Disorders, the Visual Rehabilitation Clinic at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (pictured), and Community Eye Care for vision screenings.

Nation’s longest operating optometry faculty practice

Nation’s longest operating optometry faculty practice

The UABSO was the first school or college of optometry in the U.S. to have an intramural faculty practice. It began operation in 1971. Originally located in the school’s teaching clinic it moved into its own facility after almost 10 years. The University Optometric Group is the Longest operating optometry faculty practice in the United States.

Optometric technician program, 1971-1981

Optometric technician program, 1971-1981

The Optometric Technician Program began in 1971 in the UABSO with funding from a federal grant. Ten students were enrolled in the first program. The program was moved to the School of Community and Allied Health in 1976, and was discontinued in 198, due to low enrollment and lack of financial support.

Dr. Jess Boyd Eskridge: Recruiting faculty of the future

Dr. Jess Boyd Eskridge: Recruiting faculty of the future

Dr. Jess Boyd Eskridge was hired as Chair of the Department of Optometry in 1972. He came to UABSO from the Division of Optometry, Indiana University. Much of the credit for recruiting and developing an excellent young faculty belongs to Dr. Eskridge. The clinical faculty of the UABSO was in time recognized as the best in the world.

First graduating class

First graduating class

The first class of students enrolled in the UABSO Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) program graduated in May 1973 at Boutwell Auditorium. The size of each class of the professional program increased gradually until a full class of 40 students was admitted in 1981.

Dr. David Matthews: SREB Contract Seats Program Begins

Dr. David Matthews: SREB Contract Seats Program Begins

In 1973 the UABSO began participating in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) out-of-state contract program as a result of Dr. David Matthews, President of the University of Alabama, serving on the Executive Committee of the SREB. A small number of students from each of the states of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana were eligible for admission based on an in-state tuition rate. This program continues in a slightly different format with participation limited to South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Several states required the student return to the state to practice for a period of time.

Dr. Catherine S. Amos: First female graduate

Dr. Catherine S. Amos: First female graduate

Dr. Catherine S. Amos became the first female to graduate from the UABSO in May 1974. Dr. Amos continues to practice in Hoover, AL. She served as the first women President of the ALOA in 1981-82 as well as serving in many other positions during her long and distinguished career.

School of Optometry building dedication

School of Optometry building dedication

A ground-breaking ceremony was held on December 1, 1972 for the UAB School of Optometry Building with Governor George Wallace as the principal speaker. By 1973, the building site had been prepared but the federal grant funding approved for the project had been cut in half. Governor Wallace provided state revenue-sharing funds that allowed completion of the building. The dedication of the UABSO building was held on Friday, September 12, 1975.

Establishing the Vision science graduate program

Establishing the Vision science graduate program

Faculty members of the Department of Physiological Optics met in 1971 to develop proposals for the M.S. and Ph.D. programs for submission to the University Graduate Program for approval. The School of Optometry Graduate Programs in Physiological Optics were approved in 1975 by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

Dr. Melvin Shipp: 1st African-American faculty member

Dr. Melvin Shipp: 1st African-American faculty member

The first African-American hired as a full-time faculty member at the UABSO was Dr. Melvin Shipp in 1976. Dr. Shipp had served as an optometry officer in the United States Navy prior to UAB. Dr. Shipp served UABSO as Director of Clinics and on retirement from UAB was appointed Dean of the College of Optometry at The Ohio State University.

Dr. Terrence Ingraham: 1st African-American graduate

Dr. Terrence Ingraham: 1st African-American graduate

Terrence Ingraham was the first African-American student admitted to the Doctor of Optometry program and graduated in 1978. After graduation, Dr. Ingraham worked in the ophthalmic industry and later joined the faculty of Nova-Southeastern, College of Optometry. He served as Interim Dean and Director of Student Affairs.

First school-based residency program

First school-based residency program

The first school-based Optometric Residency Program was approved in May 1978 and begun in September 1978. Dr. John Amos was appointed as the first Director. The first residencies were in Family Practice Optometry and Low Vision Rehabilitation and the residents receive their certificates of completion in 1979. The Optometric Residency Program was accredited by the Council on Optometric Education in 1979.

VSRC established

VSRC established

The Vision Science Visiting Scholars Program was begun in 1978. This program is in its 40th year and is one of the oldest Visiting Scholars programs on the UAB campus. Vision Science Research Center was established in 1979 with Dr. Terry Hickey appointed as its first Director.

The Vision Science Research Center was awarded a Core grant in 1979 by the National Eye Institute. This grant will have resulted in almost $17 million in total funding by 2020.

First decade faculty

First decade faculty

Faculty recruited in the first decade of the school’s existence included Drs. Eskridge, Amos, Alexander, Bartlett, Classe’, Hickey, Kleinstein, Loop, Norton, Nowakowski, Rutstein, Semes and Whikehart. Many other faculty members would be recruited during the era of the 1980’s and 1990’s. These early faculty members played a significant role in providing continuing education and research that resulted in the rapid rise in the UABSO’s reputation within the profession.