As my tenure as president of Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)  begins, I have tried to identify several important issues that I believe are of significance to the organization. These issues include:

  •  Attempting to attain legislative support for federal funding of optometric education.
  •  Increasing the applicant pool for optometry professional programs, optometric residency programs and graduate vision science programs.
  • Presenting discussion topics of shared resources/best practices at each Board of Directors meeting.
  • Gaining a greater familiarity with international optometry especially as it relates to the American model of optometric education; enhanced communication between ASCO and its corporate sponsors.
  • Communicating to the National Research Council the need for a separate category that recognizes vision science as a distinct discipline.
John F. Amos, OD

As far as leadership opportunities in optometry for someone interested in stepping into a position of dean or president, the possibilities are almost endless. First, I am of the opinion that having an OD degree, although perhaps not a necessity, offers a clear advantage for the chief executive of any school or college of optometry. 

Within the profession, such positions as the chief academic officer (chair, dean or vice president), chair of a department, chief-of-staff, director of residency programs or a mid-level or senior faculty member active in the committee structure of their institution all present opportunities for significant growth and advancement to administrative and leadership positions.

Outside of optometric education, some dynamic deans and presidents have come from regional and national professional organizations. I also believe that optometrists with federal service experience often have the leadership skills to be considered for these positions. However, when leadership opportunities present themselves, there is no substitute for innate values such as common sense and fairness to help address faculty, staff, student and academic issues.

In closing, let me reiterate that I enjoy having the privilege of leading the UAB School of Optometry as it addresses the opportunities it has in providing optometric and vision science education, research, service, and patient care. This requires having a sense of direction, or vision and mission, that is not only the dean's but also involves building, where appropriate, consensus on the part of the faculty, staff and students.

I also enjoy having the chance to address specific concerns related to student, staff, faculty and institutional needs. I enjoy representing the school not only to our alumni and friends but to the university, community, profession and beyond.

John F. Amos, OD, began a one-year term as ASCO?s president on June 27, 2007. Dr. Amos is dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry.