The education I received at Ohio State has allowed me to do things, go places, and meet people from all over the world beyond what I could have ever imagined growing up in southern Ohio and attending OSU. I have had the pleasure of teaching, doing research, and publishing at four optometric institutions with the last position as Dean of the Indiana University (IU) School of Optometry. It is a joy to see the success of the graduates. Being involved in the profession in such ways as the American Academy of Optometry as its President, the National Board of Examiners in Optometry, and the International Society for Contact Lens Research have been fulfilling. Being able to help develop optometry programs to provide better vision care for people in countries like Poland and Thailand has been especially rewarding. Likewise, while at IU, being in a position to enable programs to provide vision care to the indigent population in both Indiana Mexico was gratifying. I have to thank my wife Andrya, also an Ohio State graduate, for her constant support and devotion as well as her involvement in the profession. I am fortunate to still be involved with the World Council of Optometry promoting vision care and optometry worldwide.
There is no question that the inspirational leaders I encountered while at the OSU College of Optometry helped set the course for a fantastic voyage in this rewarding profession. They were mentors for professionalism, clinical excellence, effective communication, and service to Optometry. A point of pride is my uninterrupted service as a volunteer in the American Optometric Association (AOA) since 1983. Dr. Tim Kime appointed me to an AOA task force to increase student awareness of the importance of a lifetime of association membership. From that came chairmanships of the following: Diabetes Project Team, Optometric Executives Project Team, Information and Member Services Group Executive Committee, Non-Dues Income Committee, and Assistance to Graduates Project Team. Other AOA service includes time on the Glaucoma Project Team, Communications Technology Project Team, the Resolutions Committee, the Leadership Institute, and 10 years as the President’s Council Moderator. I was the AOA Optometrist of the Year in 2006. Similar volunteer positions in the Ohio Optometric Association (OOA) led to service as President in 2002, its centennial year. I participate in the RealEyes Classroom Initiative, serve as the liaison to the Northwest Ohio Regional Extension Center/Health Information Partnership, and was chairman of the East-West Eye Conference. The OOA has recognized me with its Outstanding Senior Student, Young Optometrist of the Year, Key Optometrist of the Year, and Warren G. and Ruth P. Morris Optometrist of the Year Awards. Service to the community has included past president of the West Toledo Kiwanis Club, Toledo Jaycees, and assistant scoutmaster to Boy Scout Troop 87. There are three thriving practices in the Toledo area that I had a hand in starting from scratch, and my current partner is an awesome OSU grad from the class of 2010, Dr. James Hardie. Barb and I have four children, Robbie, Kristi, Molly, and Andrew, who also share a great appreciation for the gifts of the optometric family in Ohio and across the country.
Dr. Fugate was born in 1927 and was a lifelong resident of Columbus. He graduated from Bexley High School and then served in the United States Navy during World War II. He attended The Ohio State University, earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Optometry in 1951, a Master’s of Science degree in Physiological Optics in 1953, and then returned to receive one of the first four Doctor of Optometry degrees in 1966 from Dr. Fry. Dr. Fugate taught low vision courses in the College of Optometry and served as a part-time clinical instructor for 41 years. He also practiced optometry for 52 years in Plain City and Columbus and provided exceptional leadership as a member of the boards of Vision Service Plan, the Vision Center of Central Ohio, Prevent Blindness Ohio, and the Ohio Lions Eye Research Foundation.
He was a life member of the American Optometric Association and helped establish the Diplomate in Low Vision program for the American Academy of Optometry. He was nominated for a Jefferson Award, which is given to individuals in recognition of their exemplary public service, for providing vision care to the homeless in central Ohio.
Dr. Fugate retired as a faculty member at the College in 1994. He passed away in April of 2008.
In June 1961, after graduating summa cum laude from the OSU School of Optometry, we returned to Toledo. Within the first 30 days, we purchased our first home and had our first child, and I began to see patients in my father’s practice. In 1963, I established my own private practice.
I jumped into Toledo community activities such as service clubs, PTA chair, church superintendent, etc. and was selected three years in a row as one of Toledo’s Outstanding Young Men. Also, in 1963 I received a call from one of the senior optometrists who said, “You are too young and too dumb, but you’re all we have; will you be our next zone governor?” This unexpected call changed my optometry life; I began a 30-year career in the various levels of optometric association activities. In 1965, I was elected to the Ohio Optometric Association (OOA) Board and served seven years, ultimately becoming the youngest President in OOA history in 1970-71. Incidentally, my first assignment as a trustee was to research and prepare a report to the membership on the impact of a new controversial federal program called Medicare. In 1972, I was named Ohio’s Optometrist of the Year.
After OOA service, I was asked to be a part of the American Optometric Association (AOA) leadership structure. Over the next 19 years, I had the privilege and honor to be a member or chair in 35 different organizational entities. In 1977, I was elected to the AOA Board and spent the next nine years on the Board, ultimately becoming the 62nd President of the AOA in 1983-84. Although these years were very draining physically and economically (180 days on the road as AOA President!), it was an incredibly rich experience for our entire family.
After the AOA, we relocated our practice, and I settled into a rather tranquil life in Toledo. There are three ODs in the current practice, and I continue to see patients for about 30 hours per week. Retirement is not in our vocabulary.
My current optometric activity is chairing the annual Eye Ski Optometric Educational Conference in Park City, Utah, now in its 28th year. The meeting draws 70 ODs from all across the country for top-notch education and skiing.
Apart from the office, we have been blessed with three very successful and creative “middle-aged” kids: Tammy, Tim Jr., and Todd, along with three beautiful and talented granddaughters. Barb and I celebrated our 54th wedding anniversary on September 5th and have been fortunate to remain in good health. My main vice is the Sylvania Country Club, where I am a past president and play golf four days a week. Barb and I both enjoy all active sports including golf, snow skiing, bicycling, gym work-outs, and hiking, along with traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Dr. Ewalt began his outstanding optometric career just before the Great Depression of 1929, when he graduated from OSU with a BS degree in Applied Optics. After his graduation, he entered private practice in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and conducted research in the areas of vision training, low vision, contact lenses, and aniseikonia. He was a member of the American Optometric Association (AOA) for 66 years and held at least 48 different positions in that organization, from committee member to the 41st President (1962-63).
A study of AOA records shows that in the period from 1940 through 1971, almost nothing of consequence within the profession of optometry took place without Dr. Ewalt’s active involvement. He served as vice-chairman of the Tri-State Conference on Vision and Reading through three decades and was the founder of the Optometric Extension Program’s (OEP’s) Middle Atlantic Congress. He was the editor of the “Manual of Optometric Tests and Requirements,” Chairman of the AOA Journal committee (1960-61), the author of numerous professional papers and monographs, and a presenter of more than 100 lectures in the US and throughout the world. As Chair of the AOA Education Council (a forerunner of the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education-ACOE), he established a high standard of academic excellence in optometry by directing preparation of the “Manual on Accrediting,” which was accepted by the National Commission on Accrediting and followed by all optometry schools and colleges. The AOA formally thanked him and recognized his service to humanity in 1965 with its highest award, the Apollo Award.
On April 1, 1977, Dr. Ewalt established a permanently endowed fund at the College, the H. Ward Ewalt, Sr. and Jane S. Ewalt Permanent Endowment Fund, to honor his parents. This gift continues to provide the College with critical funds in support of projects related to children’s vision.
In 1990, he received the OSU Alumni Association’s Citizen Award. When asked what was most important to him outside of his family and work, he said, “the effort to make the College of Optometry at The Ohio State University the top optometric program in the world.” Optometric Educators, Inc. also established a medal in his honor that same year, which is given in recognition of exemplary service to the College and the profession.
Dr. Ewalt continued to practice optometry in Pittsburgh until November of 1994. He passed away on May 8, 1995, at the age of 88.
Kevin T. Corcoran, OD, FAAO, is a 1983 graduate of the College of Optometry, having earned both a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiological Optics and his Doctor of Optometry degree from Ohio State. He then completed a residency at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Cleveland. Since 1984, he has been practicing at the Cincinnati Eye Institute, where he is the Director of Optometric Services and directs an accredited residency in ocular disease in affiliation with the OSU College of Optometry. He is a Clinical Associate Professor at the College.
Through his efforts, residents obtain a vast array of clinical experience. Dr. Corcoran is well regarded as an esteemed teacher and mentor. He has established himself as an expert in the field and has attained many scholarly achievements throughout his career. He is a frequent lecturer and invited speaker at many prominent national meetings and has amassed 120 such speaking engagements. He has published case reports and posters and has participated in dozens of clinical trials.
Dr. Corcoran has a distinguished record of service to the profession, most notably in his involvement with the Ohio Optometric Association (OOA). He has served on the Continuing Education Committee and the East/West Eye Conference Committee for nearly three decades. He has been recognized for his contribution to optometry by receiving the OOA’s Outstanding Service Award as well as being named the OOA’s Warren G. and Ruth P. Morris Optometrist of the Year in 1994.
Dr. William J. “Joe” Benjamin is a tenured Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), School of Optometry (UABSO). He is the director of the Eye Physiology and Ocular Prosthetics Laboratory, a Senior Scientist of UAB’s Vision Science Research Center, and a clinician in contact lens practice and primary eye care. His basic research interests include the physiology of the cornea and ocular surface and are related to his clinical research and practice with prosthetic eye devices such as contact lenses and conjunctival inserts. Dr. Benjamin was the convener (chair) of the contact lens working group of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for 15 years. He is an active member of the Z80 Committee on Ophthalmic Products of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the primary editor/author of ANSI Z80.20 and ISO 18369 standards on contact lenses, former chair of the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) Commission on Ophthalmic Standards and the AOA Seal of Acceptance Program, editor/author of the text Borish’s Clinical Refraction (now in its second edition), and an optometric member of the National Academies of Practice. Previously he was the Director of the Institute for Contact Lens Research at the University of Houston and UABSO’s Director of Clinical Eye Research. He is President of the International Society for Contact Lens Specialists and a council member of the International Society for Contact Lens Research, holds a patent on an improved design for a conjunctival insert, and was a coursemaster of the contact lens series at the UAB. He received the Dr. Josef Dallos Award from the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association, the Achievement Award from the Contact Lens and Cornea Section of the American Optometric Association, the Frederik William Herschel Medal from the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists, and the Statesmanship Award from the ISO contact lens working group. He has received sponsorship from companies and associations in 10 different countries and 15 different states in the US and has given presentations or conducted meetings in 25 countries and 27 states. For two years, he was the interim Chair of the UABSO Department of Optometry and Director of the Professional Program there. He is currently the Associate Dean of the UABSO and interim Director of the Professional Program. He and his wife, Dr. Patricia Benjamin, now monitor from afar the progress of their son, Daniel, an engineering graduate of Auburn University in the area of Materials Science.
Dr. Alexander earned four degrees from The Ohio State University: BS (1974), OD (1976), MS (1977) and PhD (1979). He taught expanded curricular and continuing education courses in pharmacology and ocular disease at the College of Optometry during the 1980s and 1990s and helped Ohio optometrists win the right to use Diagnostic Pharmaceutical Agents (1984) and Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Agents (1992). After establishing a private practice in Columbus, he served as the first Center Director and Residency Director at The Eye Center of Toledo. In 1995, he completed a fellowship in vitreoretinal disease at Retina Vitreous Associates in Toledo and served as their center director. In July of 2000, he was named Dean of the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University College of Optometry. Dr. Alexander has been recognized many times for his outstanding contributions to Ohio State and to the profession. He received The Ohio State University Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1980; the Ohio Optometric Association’s Warren G. and Ruth P. Morris Optometrist of the Year award in 1989; became a Distinguished Practitioner in the National Academies of Practice in 2000; received The Ohio State University College of Optometry H. Ward Ewalt Medal for Distinguished Service in 2007; and, in 2012, was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame. He served as President of the Ohio Optometric Association in 1995-96; President of the American Optometric Association in 2007–08; President of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry in 2011-12. In 2008, Dr. Alexander was named the seventh president of the Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO) in Fullerton, California, and, in April, 2013, he became the founding President of Marshall B. Ketchum University in Fullerton, California, leading SCCO’s development into an interdisciplinary health care university