VSP Global and Heart of America Eye Care Congress Honor Legacy of ‘Uncle Frank’ With Creation of the Fontana Scholarship

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RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.—VSP Global and Heart of America Eye Care Congress have partnered to launch a new optometry scholarship in honor of Frank Fontana, OD, affectionately known to all as “Uncle Frank,” according to an announcement from the two organizations. After a storied career as a doctor of optometry for nearly 70 years, Dr. Fontana passed away last fall at the age of 96, leaving behind an unmatched legacy as a colleague, mentor and friend to so many. The Fontana Scholarship will be awarded annually, beginning in 2020.

“Dr. Fontana was committed to helping others—from his patients to fellow doctors of optometry, which included optometry students starting their careers,” said Gordon Jennings, OD, and VSP Global chairman of the board. “We are proud to celebrate his legacy through this scholarship and recognize the next generation who carry the same commitment to care and passion for our profession that he embodied.”

The Fontana Scholarship will be open to third- and fourth-year optometry students actively engaged in patient care. Applicants will be judged in four areas in which Dr. Fontana excelled at: clinical performance; empathetic patient care; ability and interest to adopt modern technologies; and a strong interest in developing and participating in the optometric community. The scholarship recipient will receive $4,250 in scholarship money and a $750 travel grant to attend Heart of America’s Eye Care Congress Conference in 2020.

“As a National Optometry Hall of Fame inductee, Dr. Frank Fontana was an icon in the field of optometry and helped found the Heart of America Contact Lens Society in 1961, serving as a charter board member,” said Sean Mulqueeny, OD, president of Heart of America Eye Care Congress.

“Earlier this month, at the 58th annual Heart of America Eye Care Congress, we honored Dr. Fontana’s career and the many accolades he received, including the 1987 Heart of America OD of the Year award, as well as the Heart of America Founder’s Award in 2016. We are thrilled to establish this scholarship and award it to the optometry student who best exemplifies the personal character and integrity of Uncle Frank—a true visionary.”

Additional details about the application submission process will be shared in the coming months. Since 2010, VSP Global has provided more nearly $2 million in scholarship support to hundreds of optometry students.