NEW YORK—The University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry has announced it will award honorary degrees during the 50th commencement ceremony to two professionals who have made substantial contributions to the advancement of optometry, vision research and public health care: Richard E. Feinbloom and Stephen A. Burns Ph.D. The honorary degrees will be conferred to both recipients during the college’s commencement ceremony on May 23, after a commencement address by John B. King, Jr., EdD, JD, the 15th chancellor of the State University of New York.

Richard E. Feinbloom will receive a doctor of humane letters, honoris causa. He is the president of Designs for Vision, headquartered on Long Island, N.Y. with 73 offices worldwide. The company was founded in 1961 by Feinbloom’s late father, Dr. William Feinbloom, with a goal of manufacturing optical devices to enhance the vision of patients who had partial or low vision. Specializing in wearable devices that provide enhanced visualization through magnification and illumination, more than 100,000 optical products manufactured by Designs for Vision are helping clinical professionals relieve pain and improve the quality of life for their patients on a daily basis.

Feinbloom earned a business administration degree at Baruch College and completed the optical design program at the Institute of Optics. In addition to being a past president of SUNY Optometry’s affiliated foundation as well as a current board member, Feinbloom has served on multiple boards of directors and advisory groups including several related to vision.

 (L to R) Richard E. Feinbloom, Stephen A. Burns Ph.D and John B. King, Jr., EdD, JD.
Dr. Stephen A. Burns will receive the doctor of science, honoris causa, degree in recognition of his contributions to the field of vision science. Dr. Burns has a long, successful career and is a world-recognized expert in multiple topical areas of vision science. Much of his work over the last several decades contributed to uncovering “the hidden retina,” allowing clinicians and scientists to view the living human retina in a way previously not possible, opening the door for diagnoses and treatment. As is evident from his life’s work, Dr. Burn’s breadth of knowledge extends from engineering to electrophysiology and psychophysics.

Dr. Burns obtained his bachelor of science degree in fundamental sciences from Lehigh University, followed by a Ph.D. in biophysics at The Ohio State University, and a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in the department of ophthalmology at the University of Chicago. He then served as a faculty member in the departments of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh (8 years), Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard University (17 years) and is currently a faculty member with the Indiana University School of Optometry at Indiana University’s Bloomington campus since 2005, where he is currently a distinguished professor.

Dr. John B. King, Jr. will deliver the 2024 commencement address. The State University of New York (SUNY) is the largest comprehensive system of public higher education in the United States. Prior to his appointment as chancellor, King served as president of The Education Trust, a national civil rights nonprofit which seeks to identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps for students from preschool through college.

Chancellor King also served in President Barack Obama's cabinet as the 10th U.S. secretary of education. Before his appointment as secretary of education, chancellor King fulfilled the duties of deputy secretary of education, overseeing all policies and programs related to P-12 education, English learners, special education and innovation.

His service in Washington, D.C. followed King's tenure as New York State's first African American and first Puerto Rican education commissioner. Chancellor King holds a bachelor of arts in government from Harvard University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, as well as both a master of arts degree in the teaching of social studies and a doctorate in education from Teachers College at Columbia University.

The SUNY Board of Trustees votes upon and grants approval for all honorary degrees.