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No. 1: College of Optometry for Alabama

November 21, 2013
Dean Henry B. Peters and the first UAB optometry students, 1969. Members of the first class were recruited by Dean Peters and began their studies at the end of September 1969. Pictured from left, front row, Michael E. Raim, Eugenie Sturtevant, Dean Henry B. Peters, Neil M. Bleakley, and Ronald E. Dachelet; and back row, Nelson G. Crandall, Ernest S. Spohn, Alan G. Tavel, and Gene J. Terrezza. The School of Optometry awarded its first bachelor degrees in physiological optics in 1971 and its first Doctor of Optometry degrees in 1973. Photo courtesy of the UAB Archives, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dean Henry B. Peters and the first UAB optometry students, 1969. Members of the first class were recruited by Dean Peters and began their studies at the end of September 1969. Pictured from left, front row, Michael E. Raim, Eugenie Sturtevant, Dean Henry B. Peters, Neil M. Bleakley, and Ronald E. Dachelet; and back row, Nelson G. Crandall, Ernest S. Spohn, Alan G. Tavel, and Gene J. Terrezza. The School of Optometry awarded its first bachelor degrees in physiological optics in 1971 and its first Doctor of Optometry degrees in 1973.
Photo courtesy of the UAB Archives, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Editor’s Note: To commemorate 50 years of groundbreaking news in optometry, we are publishing the Top 10 AOA News stories as selected by our readers from all five decades. The AOA News ran the following article in November 1967.

The establishment of a College of Optometry at the University of Alabama Medical Center at Birmingham became assured recently as Gov. Lurleen Wallace approved legislation providing $50,000 per year in funds for the next two years to get the college started.

Full information will be forthcoming in the near future as plans develop, according to Donald A. Springer, O.D., Anniston, Ala., chairman of the new college committee,
Southern Council of Optometrists.

Future coverage

1969: UAB-The Alabama State Legislature has appropriated $500,000 as funds for a new School of Optometry at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

A special advisory committee is considering appointment of a Dean for the new optometry program.

The first students are expected to be enrolled for the fall ‘69 term.

Events leading to the creation of the new optometry school with an explanation as to becoming an integral part of the UAB complex were explained by Dr. J.F. Volker, president of the University, in the May issue of the UAB-Medical Center Bulletin.

New school off and running

In a recent interview with Dr. Henry Peters, dean of the School of Optometry at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, 60 applicants for admission were received with the School of Optometry accepting 10.

The students have been enrolled in existing University Science Courses.

The integrated basic science course with dentistry, medicine and optometry students in the same classes will not take place until a new building is constructed, stated Dr. Peters.

A subcommittee of the AOA Council on Education has recently met at the University and is considering preliminary accreditation for the new School of Optometry.

$500,000 more

The school will apply for a federal basic and special improvement grant as well as a new building grant in the near future.

Peters indicated, “Approximately $50,000 more is needed from the profession almost
immediately to qualify for the construction grant.

Plans to institute a technicians’ training program at the new school of optometry are also in the offering as well as a program of rotating internships for optometrists at various hospitals and a program of learning disabilities.”

Scholarships Needed

Peters stated that out-of-state tuition at UAB is $1,200 as compared to $600 for in-state students.

He indicated scholarships by professional organizations and societies would greatly help the new school.

“UAB could have a new Optometry building constructed by 1971, if everything falls right,” indicated Peters.

Optometrists desiring to help in the financial needs of the new school may do so by donation through the Optometric Progress Fund specifying the amount contributed to be donated to the University of Alabama School of Optometry.

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