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The UAB School of Optometry is committed to understand, preserve, restore, and enhance vision, eye health, and quality of life.


The mission of the UAB School of Optometry is to educate optometry students, residents, and future vision scientists; discover and communicate new knowledge in eye care and vision research; translate these ideas into clinical practice; and provide care to the community with integrity and compassion.


UAB and UABSO Shared Values: We C.A.R.E.

UABSO Values are adapted from UABSO Values 2019-2023 and UAB Values 2024-2028.

  • Collaborate: Building relationships on the foundation of cooperation that fosters unity towards a common goal.
  • Act with integrity: Committing to honest, trustworthy, and ethical behavior.
  • Respect: Improving our community by investing our time and talents with compassion and respect towards all.
  • Excellence: Exhibiting high achievement in all that we do.


To accomplish our goals for education, discovery, community engagement and patient care, UABSO must also continue its diligent focus on the following items.

  • Resources and Sustainability

    Continuing to ensure that UABSO has in place the people, funds, and facilities appropriate to accommodate our activities and allow us to reach our goals. 

  • Communication and Public Relations

    Continuing to enhance and tailor our communication and public relations efforts so that current and potential students, collaborators, patients, and partners are aware of our mission, vision, activities, and impact as well as the goals articulated in this strategic plan.

  • Stewardship

    UABSO’s goal is to grow philanthropic giving from alumni and supporters and ensure that all resources available to UABSO are used and managed effectively and are in alignment with our mission, including estate planning gifts, continued giving for scholarships and endowments in support of our strategic pillars.

  • Diversity

    Diversity at UABSO means the practice of valuing each member of our community and the richly different perspectives, characteristics and life experiences. UAB is committed to fostering a welcoming, respectful, and professional environment where faculty, staff, and students feel accepted and thrive.


Strategic Pillars: Our Area of Focus

Goals, Objectives, Activities and Metrics

  • UABSO Pillar 1: Education

    Since awarding its first Doctor of Optometry degree in 1973, the UAB School of Optometry has grown to include graduate degrees in Vision Science, three dual degree programs, and eight affiliated residency programs. Our educational commitment is to ensure highest quality teaching and methodology on the forefront of professional and graduate education.

    Strategic Goal: Prepare our optometric students and residents to practice at the highest level of evidence-based patient care and provide our graduate students with an in-depth understanding of vision science and the principles of scientific inquiry.

    Strategic Objective 1: Foster excellence and creativity in didactic and clinical teaching through faculty engagement and development. 

    Strategic Objective 2: Provide opportunities for post-graduate education through competitive, high-quality residencies, continuing education, and vision science curriculum.

    Strategic Objective 3: Enroll, retain, and graduate diverse, high-achieving, leaders in the fields of Optometry and Vision Science.

    SMART Criteria for Dashboard Metrics for Education

    1. Through 2028, UABSO will support their faculty:
      1. By inviting the CTL to provide a workshop to all faculty during the annual retreat and by encouraging further development through eLearning and similar coursework,
      2. By sustaining at least 10% faculty involvement in peer reviews of didactic teaching,
      3. By lowering student: faculty ratio as economically feasible with a target ratio of no more than 5:1 overall, and
      4. By retaining 90% of retirement-ineligible faculty for at least 5 years.
    1. Through 2028, UABSO will provide post-graduate opportunities for our students and regional colleagues:
      1. By maintaining a rate of residency placements at or above the national average, and
      2. By increasing the number of UABSO reviewed and supported CE courses at external sites by five courses each year while aiming to have at least 75% of CE hours COPE-approved.
    1. Through 2028, UABSO will continue to foster the integrity and diversity of our professional and graduate programs:
      1. By recruiting at least 2 students per year to the international optometry program (AIODP),
      2. Maintain or increase the number of endowed scholarships, including those targeting underrepresented student populations,
      3. By sustaining a minimum average GPA of 3.5 and OAT score of 300 for OD program entering classes,
      4. By maintaining NBEO passage rates on all parts at or above national average, and
      5. By continuing to maintain competitive enrollment and selectively choose the top four PhD students from an increasing number of applicants per year.
  • UABSO Pillar 2: Research and Innovation Growth

    We seek to capitalize on our outstanding research faculty to further develop an environment of productive research collaboration and innovation. It is our goal to expand our research efforts and establish the school as a premier research school of optometry. Also, with access to a world-renowned academic medical center, UAB provides an ideal context for the School’s efforts in discovery, integration and application of new knowledge towards improving eye health.

    Strategic Goal: Empower and increase the discovery, integration, and application of knowledge.

    Strategic Objective 1:  Expand the currently funded research portfolio (e.g., National Institutes

    of Health, Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, industry or other partners).

    Strategic Objective 2: Increase communication, marketing and public relations efforts to enhance research and related outcomes.

    Strategic Objective 3: Cultivate an environment to enhance research collaboration and innovation.

    SMART Criteria for Dashboard Metrics for Research and Innovation Growth Pillar:

    1. By 2028, increase total research funding by 20%.
    2. By 2028, increase funding for clinical and translational research by 20%.
    3. By 2028, increase faculty engagement in scholarship and research to 75% in 5 years based on publications (published abstract, papers, grant submission.
    4. By 2028, actively progress towards endowed professorship position.
    5. By 2028, double the number of websites devoted to individual faculty research.
    6. By 2028, increase membership in the VSRC by 20% over 5 years.
  • UABSO Pillar 3: Community Engagement

    Since the founding of the School, community engagement has been integrated into the professional program to increase clinical experience for students, promote the value of eye care for the underserved, and highlight the public health impact of eye care.  Our community engagement activities have surpassed what one would expect from a school our size. This is a unique achievement as well as a point of pride and offers an opportunity to enhance the visibility of the school. It is our goal to maintain and increase our community engagement.

    Strategic Goal: Engage the community through activities that involve students, faculty, and staff in teaching and public education to increase awareness of ocular conditions, and how eye health reflects systemic health.

    Strategic Objective 1: Increase access to comprehensive eye health through community outreach.

    Strategic Objective 2: Increase awareness and knowledge of the value of eye care, and the role of optometry as a profession in the health care system.

    Strategic Objective 3: Develop and enrich new and existing partnerships within the UAB community that strategically support attainment of our community engagement goal.

    SMART Criteria for Dashboard Metrics

    1. By 2028, increase or maintain the number of patient encounters in external clinics and screenings.
    2. By 2028, increase eye care education via submissions and publications of materials through the UAB Office of Communication by 20%.
    3. By 2028, increase the number of faculty, staff, and student community engagement activities logged through Blazer Pulse by 50%.
    4. By 2028, submit at least one grant application annually to support funding for community eye care activities with the ultimate goal of purchasing a mobile healthcare vehicle equipped with exam lane(s) and specialty testing equipment.
  • UABSO Pillar 4: Patient Care

    At UAB Eye Care, we provide comprehensive eye care services to the community as well as training and education to optometry students and residents.  It is our goal to provide accessible, sustainable, excellent, and compassionate care to all patients. We are dedicated to deliberate, personalized care; to improving the eye health of underserved populations; to the ethical development of and participation in clinical trials; and to fiscal responsibility. We seek to foster a culture of continuous learning through support of innovative technologies, commitment to interdisciplinary education, and continued cooperation with the UAB Vision Science program.

    Strategic Goal: Through a patient-centered approach, provide accessible, sustainable, excellent, and compassionate care to all patients, embracing diversity and inclusivity.

    Strategic Objective 1: Foster an excellent patient experience through streamlined procedures and high-quality patient care.

    Strategic Objective 2: Maintain responsible and ethical stewardship of funds invested by the state and generated through tuition and direct-care clinics.

    Strategic Objective 3: Improve access to patient care for all individuals, including those from underserved, underrepresented, or marginalized groups.

    Strategic Objective 4: Recruit and retain excellent clinical faculty and staff to support a growing number of clinical interns and to bolster the number of patient visits.

    SMART Criteria for Dashboard Metrics for Patient Care Pillar:

    1. By 2028, increase revenue per patient by 5% over baseline.
    2. By 2028, increase optical capture rate by 2% per year from baseline.
    3. By 2028, increase maximum capacity of kept appointments relative to the number of student interns.
      1. Year 1: Develop approach for determining maximum capacity based on number of students in class/on campus and determine accurate baseline from which to grow.
      2. Year 2,3,4,5: Increase kept appointments per in-house student relative to baseline.
    4. By 2028, maintain or improve patient satisfaction scores in the areas of communication, friendliness/helpfulness, and overall patient experience.
      1. Year 1 and 2: Develop new patient survey to focus on specific areas of patient satisfaction.
      2. Year 2-3: Obtain baseline data and determine appropriate goal for improvement.
      3. Year 4-5: Improve scores in designated areas as stated above or as determined necessary by data gathered.

Process and Participants

  • Process and Participants

    In 2019, the SOO Dean’s Committee created four sub committees each charged with developing the strategic plan content for one of the strategic pillars of this plan. That work was completed early 2020 and the resulting document reviewed and amended by the Dean’s Committee with the assistance of strategic planning consultant Alice Walther. In May 2020, a newly created group, the Dean’s Strategic Advisory Committee was presented with the plan charged with oversight of its implementation. Membership of these committees is listed below.

    It is important to note that this plan was completed as the 2020 coronavirus pandemic became an increasing threat to the nation and the school. It is understood that this event will not only present immediate challenges to realization of the strategic plan but may also require changes to the plan that affect the entire plan period. The subcommittees and the Dean’s Strategic Advisory Committee will discuss these issues and manage adjustment of the plan as needed going forward.

    Strategic Advisory Committee members:

    1. Dean Kelly Nichols
    2. Community Engagement Pillar Co-chairs: Drs. Keisha Brown and Janene Sims
    3. Research and Innovation Growth Pillar Co-chairs: Drs. Steve Pittler and Julie Quinet
    4. Education Pillar Co-chairs: Drs. Tamara Oechslin and Kristine Hopkins
    5. Patient Care Pillar Co-chairs: Drs. Jillian Ziemanski and Beth Steele
    6. Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Dr. Keisha Brown
    7. Faculty Advisory Committee Chair: Dr. Lei Liu
    8. Executive Director of Administrative Operations: Mr. Chris Boutwell
    9. Communications Director: Ms. Satina Richardson
    10. Senior Director of Development: Ms. Sommer Thompson
    11. Emeritus Professor Committee Chair: Dr. John Amos
    12. Alumni Board Representative: Dr. Valencia Wells
    13. Alumni Board Representative: Dr. Sharon Day
    14. Member-at-large: Dr. Mary Jean Sanspree
    15. Professional Program SGA President: Mr. Connor Godwin
    16. Graduate Program Representative: Ms. Swetha Ravichandran
    17. Staff Council Chair: Ms. Kathryn Trammell
    18. Strategic Planning Consultant: Ms. Alice Walther (invited as needed by the dean)

    Pillar Sub-committees


    • Dr. Tamara Oechslin, Co-chair
    • Dr. Kristine Hopkins, Co-chair
    • Dr. Candice Turner
    • Dr. Caroline Pate
    • Dr. Katie Clore
    • Dr. Marina Gorbatyuk
    • Dr. Nick Onken
    • Dr. Yuchen Wang

    Research and Innovation Growth:

    • Dr. Steve Pittler, Co-chair
    • Dr. Julie Quinet, Co-chair
    • Dr. Tim Kraft
    • Dr. Tim Gawne
    • Dr. Lawrence Sincich
    • Dr. Om Srivastava
    • Dr. Safal Khanal
    • Dr. Edmund Arthur

    Community Engagement:

    • Dr. Keisha Brown, Co-chair
    • Dr. Janene Sims, Co-chair
    • Dr. Adam Gordon
    • Dr. Gerald Simon
    • Dr. Amy Logan
    • Dr. Natalie West

    Patient Care:

    • Dr. Jillian Ziemanski, Co-chair
    • Dr. Beth Steele, Co-chair
    • Dr. Terri Call
    • Dr. Mark Swanson
    • Dr. Kathy Weise
    • Dr. Lei Liu
    • Dr. Andy Rothstein
    • Dr. Jennifer Craig

    Dean’s Committee

    • Dr. Keisha Brown
    • Dr. Adam Gordon
    • Dr. Kristine Hopkins
    • Dr. Timothy Kraft
    • Dr. Steve Pittler
    • Dr. Gerald Simon
    • Dr. Lawrence Sincich
    • Dr. Beth Steele
    • Mr. Chris Boutwell