by Satina Richardson

Gerald Simon, OD, received the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award at the 2022 Hooding and Convocation Ceremony. The Dean’s Distinguished Service Award acknowledges leadership and service to the community and the optometric profession.

“This award was a huge surprise,” Dr. Simon said. “Being recognized is never my goal, but I appreciate that Dean Nichols has noticed my passion for serving the school, our students and the profession of optometry. I love what I do!”

As an undergraduate majoring in nuclear medicine technology at UAB, Simon had a work study position with auxiliary services maintaining the parking lot underneath the Henry Peters Building. Although he had no idea at the time that optometry would be his chosen career, this job was his first introduction to the UAB School of Optometry.

Simon, the associate dean for student affairs, has long demonstrated the qualifications for this award.

None of the students celebrated during the convocation would have been there without him. This can be said for virtually every graduate since Simon, also private practice optometrist, began leading the student recruitment process in 2004.

Through mentorship, he sometimes begins recruiting students as early as their middle and high school years, helping them select optometry as a career once he sees their potential. The mentorship of minority students is of particular importance to him as he recognizes the need for diversity in optometry and knows that minorities are often not aware that optometry is a career option.

“I applaud Dr. Simon,” said Kelly Nichols, UAB School of Optometry dean. “When I look at our school community, I see his influence through the high level of talent in our program, through our inclusive culture and the success rate of graduates. He has said, ‘I believe we were all put here to serve, so it is only right to do so.’ Dr. Simon personifies these words every day.”