A message from Dean Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD
“The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination.” – Maya Angelou
Without knowing it, Ms. Angelou prescribes exactly what we’ve aimed for at Ohio State Optometry in these unprecedented, difficult times. Beginning three weeks ago, we took steps to continue to achieve our primary goal of educating the best optometrists in the country, even while looking the coronavirus pandemic in the face.
On March 9, university leadership announced a campus-wide initiative to convert to online didactic education for the remainder of spring semester. On March 15, the Executive Committee of the college (Mike Earley, Greg Nixon, Jeff Walline, Jim Woods, and I) made the difficult decision to suspend all student clinical rotations, effective immediately and until further notice. Since then, faculty in the College of Optometry have more than risen to the occasion, providing online education for all didactic courses and even for the critical thinking skills that develop in clinical rotations.
Our students have met the faculty more than halfway. I heard of students participating in pilot online sessions with their teachers. I heard of virtual social interactions. Our students are coping with uncertainty about their education and about their future livelihood, yet they are trusting me and the college’s administrative leaders and are giving their course instructors their all. Our faculty and staff are telecommuting. Our IT staff has facilitated our ability to do that en masse. It is remarkable.
Sadly, we have had to postpone many college events, including Visit Day, Second Look Day, our Visionary Appreciation dinner, the ΕΨΕ spring banquet, the White Coat Ceremony, and all college events related to the 2020 commencement. Rest assured that the replacement events, whether virtual or in person, will become a celebration of BuckEYE Nation’s love for the college and the university.
We are not alone. Our fellow health sciences colleagues are creatively redesigning opportunities for their students, and we are sharing best practices. The university at large has been forthcoming and transparent in its outreach. The optometry deans and presidents have been in contact with each other and with our accrediting body on a regular basis. We have relied on one another for support, encouragement, and leadership.
For those of you not in Ohio, President Michael Drake and Governor Mike DeWine have led the way. They listen to experts in our own College of Public Health and to the Director of the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton. They base their policy actions on those experts’ opinions and advice. Their leadership makes my job easier.
Everyone is fully engaged to ensure the present and future of The Ohio State University College of Optometry. People are available, helpful, dedicated, and deeply committed to each other’s safety and success. In short, we are leading and collaborating with each other and beyond with equal measures of strength and tenderness.
Karla Zadnik, OD PhD
Glenn A. Fry Professor in Optometry and Physiological Optics
The Ohio State University College of Optometry