Vision, contributions earn two honors for UH optometrist

Jerald Strickland rewarded nationally with Honorary Doctorate and for Distinguished Service

HOUSTON, June 20, 2006 A career distinguished by many contributions and advances to the optometric profession recently earned Jerald W. Strickland a pair of prestigious national honors.

Strickland, UH optometry professor and assistant vice chancellor for international studies and programs, received a Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) from The New England College of Optometry (NECO) and the Distinguished Service Award from the American Optometric Association (AOA).

NECO is the oldest continuously operating school of optometry in the United States and has also instituted the largest international optometric program in the world. The AOA is an advocate for the profession and serves optometrists in meeting public eye care needs, with its objectives centered on improving the quality and availability of eye and vision care.

Receiving NECO's Doctor of Humane Letters for demonstrating outstanding achievement and exhibiting a distinguished record of accomplishment in optometry, vision science and community service, Strickland was instrumental in creating and establishing the Partnership Foundation for Optometric Education, the seeds of which were sown in 1993 during the Summit of the Financing of Optometric Education when the need was identified for a national endowment of more than $1 billion to support the educational institutions. Strickland proposed a model in which one dollar would be added to the registration fees charged by the schools and colleges of optometry for each credit hour of continuing professional education provided to practitioners. He maintained the momentum for this concept, transformed it into a viable and robust organization and expanded it to include not only the schools and colleges, but also the major national providers of continuing optometric education, ophthalmic and pharmaceutical industry partners, as well as several state and regional providers.

"None of this would have happened except for the wisdom, organizational vision and leadership Dr. Strickland has shown throughout his career in optometric education," said Alan Lewis, president of NECO. "The success of the Partnership Foundation is directly attributable to his enthusiasm and tenacity, as well as to the immense respect he enjoys from all who know him. He transformed a vision into a reality that will benefit optometric education and the profession well into the next century."

Recognizing long-term dedication, AOA's Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual doctor of optometry for unusually significant contributions and outstanding achievements in the advancement of the optometry profession. Criteria for the award include lifetime achievements in two principal areas service to optometry and other special services. A recipient's personal time and effort on behalf of the profession are evaluated in areas that include leadership within the profession, furthering education as a teacher or administrator and participating in legislation that advances optometry. Further consideration also is given to those involved in interprofessional organizations in and out of the health care arena and in international health care groups, as well as holding leadership roles in public health initiatives.

Since coming to UH in 1979, Strickland has held a variety of faculty, administrative and leadership roles. Following his tenure as dean of the UH College of Optometry from 1991 to 2003, he was interim senior vice chancellor/senior vice president for academic affairs and provost of UH from 2003 to 2005 before assuming his current post in 2005. He also presently serves as director of UH reaffirmation of accreditation for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. A graduate from the School of Optometry at Indiana University with both his O.D. and Ph.D. degrees, Strickland has been honored with numerous awards in addition to holding many academic positions throughout his career. He has played a key role in international optometry efforts, receiving honors from universities in Colombia and China, as well as working to unite several international organizations toward a common goal through the World Optometry Foundation. Volunteerism, however, has remained close to his heart through philanthropy, leadership and as a champion of causes. Alongside his career, he began volunteering in the 1960s with the Indiana Optometric Association, then in the 1970s with the Pennsylvania Optometric Association and continued for the next 25-plus years and counting with the Texas Optometric Association.

"There are few thing in one's academic life that reach the level of pride and satisfaction for a faculty member than to share one's knowledge, skills and experience with others who will go forth, practice, thrive and teach," Strickland said.


About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

About the UH College of Optometry
For more than 50 years, the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) has educated and trained optometrists to provide the highest quality vision and eye care. One of only 17 optometry schools in the United States, UHCO offers a variety of degree programs, including Doctor of Optometry (O.D.), a combined Doctor of Optometry/Doctor of Philosophy (O.D./Ph.D.), Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). UHCO consists of 50 full-time faculty, 508 adjunct faculty and 76 full-time staff.

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