February 13, 2013

SUNY Optometry Students Look to Empire State College for Path to MBA

Logos for use in announcing advanced graduate certificate(NEW YORK – Feb. 14, 2013) Optometry students soon could see their way clearly to an MBA. In a first-of-its-kind agreement, the SUNY College of Optometry, one of the nation’s leading colleges of optometry and vision research centers, and SUNY Empire State College, a statewide institution that focuses on nontraditional teaching and learning, have signed an agreement to jointly develop and deliver an advanced graduate certificate in optometry business management. The 18-credit, six-course certificate will be fully applicable to the MBA program offered through SUNY Empire State College’s School for Graduate Studies.

Development of this new joint program is a response to increased interest from optometry students in recent years in an advanced business education that will complement their clinical training and help them prepare for the demands of managing organizations or working with corporations and government agencies on health care-related issues.

While dozens of medical, dental and other professional clinical-educational institutions in the United States have introduced joint clinical/business education programs over the last decade, this partnership between SUNY College of Optometry and SUNY Empire State College would create the first such joint program to be offered by a school of optometry in the United States.

“While it’s clear that there is a growing demand from incoming students for a business education that will complement the clinical education that they receive here, the timeliness of such a program is even more fortuitous given the acceleration of health care reform on the horizon and what that will mean in terms of the practical application of optometry,” said Dr. David A. Heath, president of SUNY College of Optometry.

Meg Benke Chancellor Zimpher and SUNY College of Optometry President David Heath at SUNY Day

Left to right: Acting President Benke, Chancellor Zimpher and President Heath.

“Working together to promote high-quality graduate education creates connections among the two college’s faculty, greater access and opportunity for students and sets out a path for possible future collaboration,” said Meg Benke, acting president of SUNY Empire State College. “Development of a new joint graduate certificate, fully applicable to an MBA, is an example of sharing resources and it’s what SUNY “systemness” is really all about.”

SUNY College of Optometry, which offers one of the most competitive optometric education programs in the country, currently graduates approximately 75 ODs each year and this new joint program represents the continued commitment of the college to the career development of its graduates. Recently, the college established the Career Development Center specifically designed to help students and graduates achieve their career goals. 

SUNY Empire State College’s School for Graduate Studies offers nine graduate certificates, six of which are applicable to the college’s MBA program. This joint program would be the seventh. Four of the six courses would be delivered to College of Optometry students online by Empire State College and two will be from SUNY Optometry's OD curriculum. SUNY Empire State College’s noncentralized, statewide campus system and its commitment to online instruction helped to make it an excellent fit for a partnership with SUNY Optometry’s busy students.

"The new certificate program will leverage the strengths of both institutions and makes effective use of the existing SUNY resources," said Tai Arnold, acting dean of SUNY Empire State College's School for Graduate Studies. "I commend the College of Optometry's leadership and Empire State College's graduate business faculty for creative collaboration that will meet the needs of SUNY Optometry students and alumni." 

“The teaching models at Empire State provide our students with a lot of flexibility,” said Dr. David Troilo, SUNY College of Optometry’s vice president and dean for academic affairs, who played a key role in establishing the agreement between the two institutions. “For students like ours with clinical training that involves such rigorous time demands we needed to partner with an institution that could offer the learning options that Empire has available.”

Once the certificate program has been developed, it will be submitted to the SUNY Board of Trustees and, if approved, the program then will be reviewed by the state Department of Education.

About SUNY College of Optometry

Founded in 1971, the State University of New York College of Optometry is a public, fully accredited, four-year professional college of optometry and vision science. Located in New York City, the college has been a leader in the education of optometrists, research in vision science and comprehensive patient care. For more information visit www.sunyopt.edu

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career. Students engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to learn at the time, place and pace they choose.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at more than 35 locations in New York state and online. Its 66,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.