William O. Schuller, OD, MPH, FAAO – Class of 1965 – Notable Alumnus

 William O. SchullerDr. Bill Schuller was born in St. Louis, Missouri but raised in Youngstown and Cleveland, Ohio. He chose a career in optometry – and later in public health – because of his brother, who had congenital glaucoma that resulted in total visual impairment. He says, “I observed my parents’ frustrations and anguish in their attempts to obtain both treatment and educational opportunities for him. I wanted to make a difference.” He chose Ohio State because it was highly rated in the sciences and health care professions and because it was a national and international university with many extracurricular activities, especially intramural sports. He earned his BS-Optometry from Ohio State in 1965 and his OD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1969. His mentors at Ohio State were Drs. Herb Mote, Boyd Eskridge, Brad Wild, and Dick Hill. His mentor at UC-Berkeley was Dr. Hank Peters. In 1974, he earned his MPH from Johns Hopkins University.

He has practiced optometry in a variety of federal and educational settings. Immediately after receiving his BS, he was the Optometry officer and Chief of the Eye Clinic at the Beale US Air Force Base in California. In 1970, he began his distinguished career in optometric education at Ohio State, then the New England College of Optometry, then the University of Alabama at Birmingham, then Pacific University, then the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, and finally back at Ohio State, which he retired from in 2007. Over those 37 years, he taught pediatric optometry, vision screening, disease diagnosis and treatment, public health, ocular and medical emergencies, and contact lenses.

He also served as Chief of Optometry at the Seattle Indian Health Board, where he saw Native American patients and supervised externs from Pacific University. In 1981, he entered the Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs) as Chief of Optometry at the Lebanon, PA medical center, where he was responsible for the residency program. In 1986, he moved to the Chillicothe VA to became Chief of Optometry and, as a Clinical Associate Professor at Ohio State, directed the Hospital-Based Residency Program and supervised externs there. He also chaired the Visual Impairment Services Team for legally blind patients at both VA facilities. “Serving veterans was very rewarding because they were very appreciative, and I really enjoyed teaching and guiding students and residents. The greatest reward was watching them evolve as outstanding clinicians then following their careers once they finished,” he said. Two of his former residents, Drs. Rick Frick (OD’97) on his right and Brett Irvin (OD/MS’02) on his left are shown in the accompanying photograph.

During his “free” time, he also instructed First Aid courses for the American Red Cross, served as an instructor for the American Heart Association in both Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, and served as an advisor for two Medical Explorer posts.

In retirement, he now enjoys hiking, touring historical sites, and visiting with family and old friends. He has been on the Board of The Ohio State University Ross County Alumni Association, including two years as its president, since 1989. He started and has served as chair of that chapter’s Freshman Merit Scholarship program since 1990 and also serves as an academic recruiter for potential Ohio State students in Ross County.

In 2011, Dr. Schuller established an endowed scholarship at the college in memory of his brother, John F. Schuller, which supports optometry students working with visually impaired/developmentally disabled children.