Keshia S. Elder, OD, MS, FAAO.

ST. LOUIS—Keshia S. Elder, OD, MS, FAAO, has been named dean of the College of Optometry at the University of Missouri–St. Louis (UMSL), effective Sept.1, 2022. Dr. Elder will be the first Black female in the nation to be dean of a school of optometry. Currently, Dr. Elder is an associate professor at the University of Alabama (UAB) School of Optometry. Elder is the second Black UAB School of Optometry faculty member to rise to the position of dean.

Melvin Shipp, OD, MPH, DrPH, was the first African American to join UABSO’s faculty in 1976. He went on to become the country's first African American optometry school dean, holding the position at The Ohio State University College of Optometry from 2004 to 2014.
Dr. Elder earned her MS in vision science and Doctor of Optometry degree from the UAB School of Optometry and holds an MS in instructional design and development from the UAB School of Education. Originally from South Carolina, Dr. Elder began her optometry career in 1998 as assistant head optometrist at the Naval Medical Clinic in Annapolis, Maryland. She moved on to head optometrist at practices within the United States Navy during a five-year stint in the Medical Service Corps. 
She then began her career in academia at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology where she served as an assistant professor. Dr. Elder then held assistant and associate professor roles at UABSO and UMSL before returning to UABSO in 2016.
Dr. Elder is UABSO’s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion. She is the externship director and completed the university’s Health Leadership Academy. During her time at UABSO, Dr. Elder served as course director of Clinical Management of Vision Problems, Public Health Optometry II, and Contact Lenses II. She was also an attending in UAB Eye Care’s Contact Lens and Primary Care Clinics.
In addition, Dr. Elder is a member of American Optometric Association and is associate editor for the journal Optometric Education by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). She serves as the ASCO Applicant Pool Development Taskforce liaison to the Diversity and Cultural Competency Committee. She is chair of the ASCO Diversity, Equity and Inclusion special interest group (SIG) and is the ASCO DEI SIG liaison to the DCCC. 
Dr. Elder is co-chair of the ASCO Externship SIG, serves as the Trustee At-Large II for the National Optometric Association, and is a member of the Nominating Committee for the American Academy of Optometry. Finally, Dr. Elder earned DEI certifications from UAB’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the University of South Florida Muma College of Business.
Dr. Elder said, “I am happy that this moment has come. Hopefully, my achievement will inspire others to continue to work toward their goals. I hope that people see themselves in me and know that if I can do it, they can do it.”
Kelly Nichols, OD, MS, PhD, FAAO, UAB School of Optometry dean, said, “UMSL is fortunate to have Dr. Elder joining as dean. I couldn’t be prouder of Dr. Elder than I am right now. She is a capable, experienced leader who will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the students, faculty and staff at UMSL.”
Dr. Elder said, “I will always view UABSO as my family and I will miss everyone tremendously. The clinical training and professional development that I received while a student and faculty member at UABSO have prepared me to serve as dean at the UMSL College of Optometry.”