21st U.S. Optometry School to Open in Massachusetts

By

Lesley Walls, OD
WORCESTER, Mass.—The Doctor of Optometry program at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) has been granted “Preliminary Approval” by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE). Scheduled to begin in August 2012, with 64 students at each level, it will be the 21st school of optometry in the U.S.

The official letter from the ACOE stated that the program “has clearly demonstrated it is developing in accordance with Council standards. The program has approval to begin student recruitment, selection and admissions, and to begin offering the program.”

The accreditation effort was led by founding dean of the school, Lesley Walls, OD, and vice dean, Kent Daum, OD. Most recently, Walls served as president of the Southern California College of Optometry, and he was also the dean of optometry at Pacific University in Oregon and at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. Daum served as vice president and dean of academic affairs at the Illinois College of Optometry.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the entire profession of optometry because our optometry students will be educated and trained side-by-side in a multiple disciplinary setting along with students in physical therapy, pharmacy and physician assistant programs,” said Walls

The school will be located at Worcester’s Lincoln Square Living and Learning Center, which the College purchased in 2010 and currently houses 200 students. Construction on the six-story, 54,000-square-foot building where the School of Optometry will be located is well underway. It will include an on-site optometry clinic, research space, administrative offices, faculty/staff offices, and an optical dispensary. The College received permission from the Worcester Planning Board to move forward with the $10 million project in September.

Founded in 1823, MCPHS is the oldest institution of higher education in the entire city of Boston and the second oldest college of pharmacy in the U.S. “This setting will help to ensure that future ODs are recognized as an integral part of the entire health care team,” added Walls.