SUNY College of Optometry students now have a new option for an advanced degree from an unexpected source – Empire State College. Through an agreement signed last week, the College of Optometry and Empire State College will develop and deliver an advanced graduate certificate in optometry business management. Graduates of the program will earn 18 credits over 6 courses that can then transfer to the Empire State College School for Graduate Studies MBA program. Nationally, this is the first time that a school of optometry has partnered with another educational institution on such a program.
This new program is a result of both the increasing interest from optometry students to receive business management education and the private and public sector need for managers that are also health care subject matter experts.
“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 healthcare 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.
“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 graduates approximately 75 Doctors of Optometry (ODs) annually. This new program shows the commitment of their students to their profession and career development and comes after the institution’s recent establishment of the new Career Development Center.
SUNY Empire State College’s School for Graduate Studies offers six graduate certificates 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.
“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, the 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.
Emily Schwartz is the Coordinator of Open SUNY Communication and Projects.