An photo of Fleming and a photo of Semes.

UABSO congratulates two long-standing faculty members, Dr. Joe Fleming and Dr. Leo Semes, on their retirements. Their commitment and contributions to the School have been tremendous, and we wish them the very best.

Dr. Joe Fleming

After 19 years of service, Dr. Joe Fleming recently announced his retirement from UABSO. A Birmingham native, Dr. Fleming graduated from Auburn University before coming to UAB for optometry school. After receiving his optometry degree, he entered a residency program in ocular disease co-sponsored by Northeastern State University College of Optometry (NSUCO) and Vision Educational Foundation Eye Center of Oklahoma. At the conclusion of his residency, Dr. Fleming joined the faculty of NSUCO. In 1997, he returned to Birmingham to join the faculty of UABSO.

At UABSO, Dr. Fleming served as course master of Cornea and External Diseases for eleven years. In addition to classroom teaching, he has worked with students and residents in clinics and conferences on a regular basis. He was selected by the UABSO students to receive the Award for Excellence in Clinical Instruction in 1998, 2002, 2004, and 2015.

Dr. Fleming’s scholarly areas are clinical education and primary eye care, and he draws upon a deeper expertise in anterior segment eye disease. In addition to authoring a textbook chapter on anterior segment evaluation for the second edition of Borish’s Clinical Refraction, he has presented and published research on herpes simplex keratitis, laser therapy in glaucoma, compliance with medical therapy in glaucoma, migraine aura without headache, practice growth, and appraisal of student performance in clinical settings.

In various professional organizations, Dr. Fleming is an active volunteer at the national, regional, state, and local levels. He was named UABSO Alumnus of the Year in 1997. Over his years at UABSO, he has served in a variety of administrative positions, including Director of Primary Care Optometry Service, Director of Residency Programs, Director of Clinical Programs, and Chief of Staff. He is currently serving as Associate Dean for Student Success and Professional Relations.

“I entered optometric education because I fell in love with helping students, and I have been fortunate over my most recent years at UABSO to be in an associate dean role where helping students is at the core,” Dr. Fleming said. “In other words, I started my career in academia because I loved helping students, and I concluded my career in academia with an even stronger focus on helping students. I have been blessed indeed!”

Dr. Leo Semes

Earlier this summer, Dr. Leo Semes announced his retirement from UABSO as Professor and Director of Externships. For 37 years, Dr. Semes has served as a mentor for countless UABSO students, faculty, and colleagues throughout the profession.

A graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Dr. Semes’ career has been marked by his expertise and knowledge of posterior segment disease and glaucoma. He served as the principal author for American Optometric Association’s (AOA) Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG), "Care of the Patient with Ocular Surface Disorders" (third edition completed 2010) and panel member for CPG, "Care of the Patient with Retinal Detachment and Related Peripheral Retinal Disease."

Dr. Semes has authored over 125 scientific articles and was named as one of the 2000 outstanding intellectuals of the 21st century. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and an active member of the American Optometric Association, as well as a founding member of the Optometric Glaucoma Society and a founding fellow of the Optometric Retina Society. Dr. Semes was recognized as one of the 50 “most influential individuals in eye care” by Optometric Management magazine and received the Educator of the Year award (2015) from the Alabama Optometric Association.

While he is known nationally and internationally for his contributions to the profession, Dr. Semes has been continually regarded by students as a true demonstration of excellence in teaching. In addition to his tremendous contributions to the profession, he has been continually regarded by UABSO students as a true demonstration of excellence in teaching.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences at UABSO,” Dr. Semes said. “This School has been the platform for my entire professional career - I will miss our interactions and remember them fondly.”

Joe Fleming staff photo. Leo Semes at his graduation.