Mark Swanson, O.D., (left) professor at the UAB School of Optometry, was named Educator of the Year by the Alabama Optometric Association.

The Alabama Optometric Association has named Mark Swanson, O.D., professor at the UAB School of Optometry, its Educator of the Year.

Swanson was honored as the recipient of the 2017 award at the ALOA’s annual convention, held Nov. 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency in Birmingham.

“It’s an honor to receive this award from my colleagues, former students and friends in the state association,” Swanson says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group to work with through the years.”

Swanson received his bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and his Doctor of Optometry degree in 1985 from the UAB School of Optometry. He also completed a residency in hospital optometry at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center with the School of Optometry. In 2003, Swanson completed his Master’s of Public Health from the UAB School of Public Health.

Swanson joined the School of Optometry as an instructor in 1986 and was named assistant professor in 1989. He serves as chief of Ocular Disease and Low Vision Service within UAB Eye Care, the School of Optometry’s clinical operation. He serves as a scientist for the UAB Center for Aging and is a board member of Older Alabamians System of Information and Services with the State of Alabama Department of Education.

Three other alumni of the School of Optometry were also honored by the ALOA. Ryan Price, O.D., was named Young OD of the Year. Price received his bachelor’s degree from Samford University and graduated from the School of Optometry in 2007. He spent six years with Christina Vision Eye Services in Haiti. He joined Alabama Eye Care in 2014.

J. Michael Hooks, O.D., a 1983 graduate of the School of Optometry, was named OD of the Year. Hooks is currently president of Hooks Eye Associates in Hoover, Alabama.

He is past president of the Central Alabama Optometric Society and serves on the disaster relief committee for the ALOA. He has provided vision care to underserved patients in numerous countries, including Tunisia, Morocco, Mexico, Costa Rica and El Salvador. He has also served as a coordinator for the Luxottica Vision Van, providing free eye care and glasses to inner city children in Birmingham and across the U.S. He also provides care to inmates of the Department of Corrections.

James Marbourg, O.D., received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the ALOA for his service to the profession and the transition of graduates into the realm of private practice. Marbourg earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1969 from the University of Alabama and a bachelor's degree in physiological optics in 1975 from UAB, where he also earned his Doctor of Optometry degree in 1977.

He was in private practice from 1977 to 1992, when he became the center director for Omega Eye Care Center. He currently serves as regional vice president for VisionAmerica, which is based in Birmingham, Alabama, and as executive vice president of Eye Health Partners of Brentwood, Tennessee.

Marbourg is married to Robin Marbourg, a 1990 graduate of the School of Optometry.

He has served as an adjunct faculty member at the School of Optometry since 1977 and sees patients at UAB Eye Care in its Primary Eye Care Service.