F Y EYE - The Official Newsletter of SUNY State College of Optometry
SUNY State College of Optometry
Issue 13 December 2008
FR O M   T H E   P R E S I D E N T

President's Letter

President David A. HeathI would like to wish everyone in the SUNY College of Optometry family happiness and peace during this holiday season.  It is during times such as these, that family and friends become so much more important, and it is during times like these that we must stand together as a community.
This past weekend, I wandered across 42nd Street to do some holiday shopping in the booths and kiosks of Bryant Park.  The weather was poor, the temperature cold and business owners openly shared that sales were light, foot traffic was down and few anticipated anything but a financial loss.  Remarkably, most accepted this fate in good spirit, adopted a philosophical outlook and looked to the New Year with hopes of a better future.
Much like the Bryant Park kiosk owner, SUNY campuses face financial uncertainty and unfortunately, the Executive Budget recently proposed by the Governor, dims our hopes for the coming year.  While press releases emphasize elements mitigating the impact of budget cuts such as tuition increases, the inclusion of negotiated collective bargaining increases and minor inflationary adjustments, the details of the Governor's budget proposal are much more ominous.
The proposed Executive Budget unashamedly demonstrates the concept of  "with what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away".  While embracing recently approved tuition increases by the SUNY Board of Trustees, the Governor's budget siphons 80% of the increase for non-educational purposes and there are millions of dollars in additional State reductions achieved through decreases in hospital funding, the potential diversion of non-state revenues (IFRs) for unintended use, a "tithing" of the Research Foundation and the possible elimination of university-wide programs developed to support the new innovation-economy.  The impact of these details on the SUNY College of Optometry and other campuses remain unclear, but the purest indicator of State support for public higher education may be found in the line item - "General Fund State Support".  The proposed Executive Budget decreases State support over the prior year by $11.7% or $137,242,800.  This is on top of current year reductions in State support of approximately 15%.
The New Year will require a community response firmly advocating for the future of public higher education and its critical role in ensuring the long-term economic health of the State of New York.
In spite of our challenges, this holiday season offers us the opportunity to take a short respite from our concerns, to bask in the warmth of family and friends, to appreciate how much we do have, and to perhaps share with those a bit less fortunate.  Best holiday wishes to all and good cheer for the New Year. 
David A. Heath, O.D., Ed.M.
 M A I N   F E A T U R E
Over the past month, more than fifty scholarships, totaling more than $85,000, were awarded to students during two award ceremonies.  These scholarships were provided thanks to the generosity of donors who are committed to the State University of New York College of Optometry and to ensuring that our educational programs remain accessible to all.  Ranging from $900 to $4500, these scholarships help ease the financial costs of an optometric education and allow our students to graduate with less debt.  Scholarship support has never been more important as the economy suffers and educational costs increase.
Schnurmacher Foundations Merit Scholars 
Dr. Heath (l), Mr. Weinstein (r) & Class of 2012 Schnurmacher ScholarsForty students were awarded the Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher and the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundations Merit Scholarships.  At a luncheon held on November 24 in the Alumni Commons, Mr. Ira Weinstein of the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation, presented the scholarships to the recipients of the first year class.  Ten scholarship recipients were in each class.  President David Heath extended gratitude to the two foundations for their continuous support as well as congratulations to each scholarship recipient.
Scholarships Awarded to Outstanding Students 
The annual 2008 Fall Scholarships were given at a luncheon held in Alumni Commons on2008 Fall Scholarship Recipients December 10.  Dr. Joan Portello, President of the Alumni Association, presented the Alumni Association Scholarships to Mr. Emmanuel De la Cruz '10 and Ms. Lara Mendelssohn '12; Dr. Leonard Werner, former Professor and Dean of Academic Affairs, presented the Esther J. Werner Memorial Scholarship to Ms. Lisa Ruffle '12; Dr. Ida Chung-Lock and Dr. Denise Whittam, representatives of the New York State Optometric Association (NYSOA), presented the NYSOA Scholarship to Ms. Julie Marsh '11; Dr. Ronald Millman presented the Dr. Nathan and Laura Millman Scholarship to Ms. Jaclyn Bruno '11 and Ms.Yelena Glikman '11.  Mr. Marc Lay '10, Ms. Katy Lo '10 and Ms. Stephanie Wong '10 were awarded the Scott Tasker Folsom Scholarship which was presented by President David Heath.  President Heath also presented the Dr. Jerome Weiss Scholarship to Ms. Erica Shulman '10 and the Imperial Optical's Dr. Paul Berman Scholarship to Ms. Vanna Wong '12.  Congratulations to all and "thank you" to all the scholarship donors.  
F O C A L   P O I N T
SUNY State College of Optometry Accreditation Re-affirmed
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, at its session on November 20, 2008 acted:
    "To accept the Periodic Review Report [of the State University of New York
     State College of Optometry], to commend the institution for the
     quality of its Periodic Review Report, and to reaffirm accreditation."
The Commission's action was without "recommendations", and no further action is required prior to the conduct of the next comprehensive review.  The Periodic Review Report is required of all institutions five years following a comprehensive review, with the College of Optometry's last comprehensive review in 2003.  This action by the Commission represents the final step in a year long process conducted by the College community.  The Statement of Accreditation Status (SAS) provides important basic information about the institution and its affililation with the Commission.  The statement is available to the public in the Directory of Members and Candidates on the Commission's website at www.msche.org.  Dr. Heath expressed his appreciation to Dr. Steven Schwartz and the PRR Steering Committee for their fine efforts on behalf of the College.
Tuition Increase Approved by SUNY Board of Trustees 
On Tuesday, November 18th, the SUNY Board of Trustees voted to amend the tuition and fee schedule of the State University of New York to reflect a 14.2% increase in resident tuition and a 21.3% increase in non-resident tuition.  This action, effective November 24, 2008, will result in a mid-year tuition increase under the State's emergency rule making process.
For SUNY State College of Optometry, this results in an annual increase in resident tuition of $1,930 to annualize tuition at $15,550.  Out-of-state residents tuition will increase $5,570 which reflects an annual tuition of $31,720.  The increase is effective for the 2009 Spring semester/quarter.
President Heath sent a letter to the students on November 26, 2008, informing them of this action; met with the Student Council Officers and, held an open forum session for the students in case anyone had any questions and/or comments. 
DI D   Y O U   K N O W ?
  • Per capita spending for health care in the United States is nearly $7,000 and twice as much as in other developed economies, including among others, the U.K., France, Germany, Canada and Australia.  (Commonwealth Fund analysis)

  • For the entering class of 2008 nationwide, there were 2,822 unduplicated applicants.  This represents a 4.8% increase from the prior year and suggests approximately two applicants for every seat.  (ASCO)

  • As of December 1st, the Primary Care Service of the University Optometric Center was showing the greatest increase in patient visits, (year-to-date) with 565 more patient visits than during the same period last year.
Dr. John Clark Steps Down as Interim Chancellor of SUNY
Dr. John C. ClarkOn Tuesday, November 18, Dr. John C. Clark, Interim Chancellor of the State University of New York, submitted his resignation as the Interim Chancellor, effective December 31, 2008.
When Dr. Clark assumed this position, he expected that it would not last more that 8 months.  Needless to say, his tenure lasted much longer and at the end of this month it will make 19 months that he served in this capacity.
Prior to his current position, Dr. Clark was Interim President of Alfred State College, and previously, as we all well know, Interim President of the SUNY State College of Optometry.
Dr. Clark has been appointed a Visiting Professor at SUNY.
We at the SUNY State College of Optometry wish Dr. Clark best wishes and much success in his future endeavors.
SUNY Board of Trustees have named Vice Chanceloor and Secretary of the University, Mr. John J. O'Connor Officer-in-Charge.  He will head the Universitiy until a permanent Chancellor is named.  
Faculty Profile -- Jose-Manuel Alonso, M.D., Ph.D. 
Dr. Jose-Manuel AlonsoDr. Jose-Manuel Alonso is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the  SUNY State College of Optometry.  Born in Spain, He obtained an M.D. from the University of Santiago de Compostela in 1989 and a Ph.D. from the University Autonoma of Madrid in 1992.  Soon after finishing his Ph.D., Dr. Alonso was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to pursue postdoctoral studies in the Laboratory of Dr. Torsten Wiesel at Rockefeller University, under the supervision of Dr. Clay Reid.  At that time, Dr. Wiesel, who won a Nobel Prize in 1981, was the President of Rockefeller University and Dr. Reid was an Assistant Professor in his laboratory.  In 1999, Dr. Alonso took a position at the University of Connecticut as Assistant Professor and, in 2002, joined the faculty at SUNY Optometry.
Dr. Alonso's laboratory investigates how visual information is processed in the brain with a special focus on two main structures:  the visual thalamus and the primary visual cortex.  These two structures have the most detailed representation of visual space in the brain and even the smallest disruption of their circuits can have a notable effect on visual perception.  Neuronal properties and circuits in primary visual cortex can be disrupted if the transmission of light through the eyes is compromised.  However, it still is not known how to reduce or reverse these changes in circuitry.  A major problem that precludes progress in treatment strategies is poor understanding of the basic principles that govern the organization of neuronal circuits in such an important area of the brain.  Dr. Alonso's lab has been a pioneer in the study of individual neuronal connections in the primary visual cortex and their role in the construction of neuronal response properties and neuronal architecture.
More recently, his laboratory is using state-of-the-art multielectrode technology to push forward the study of individual neuronal connections; investigate how the response gain of individual neurons is modulated by behavior and brain state; and to quantify changes in sensory representations as a function of natural scene statistics.  Dr. Alonso will branch into a new future line of research that investigates how to promote changes in brain circuitry by manipulating stimulus conditions and brain states.  His work has been funded by NIH/NEI since 1999.


Hendrickson, A., Troilo, D., Djajadi, H., Possin, D. & Springer, A. (2009).  "Expression of Synaptic and Phototransduction Markers During Photoreceptor Development in the Marmoset Monkey Callithrix jaccus. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 512:218-231/
Scheid, T., Bennet, E. (2008).  "Gas Permeable Lens Problem Solving" in Clinical Management of Contact Lenses, third edition.  Henry V. Lippincott, Wilkins, Williams.  (Book contents can be viewed at www.lww.com.)
Case Reports
Scheid, T.  #10 GP Inferior Decentration, and #25 Back Toric GP design, in GP Lens Case Grand Rounds, GPLI education book 2008.
Denise SchlieferMs. Denise Schliefer, Clinic Manager of the Ocular Disease Service, has been promoted to the position of Clinical Operations Manager for the University Optometric Center (UOC).  In addition to having responsibility for the coordination of overall operations of the UOC, she will provide administrative oversight for the Call Center and the Referral Service, and will coordinate community outreach projects.  Ms. Schliefer has been with the UOC for ten years.   Prior to coming to the clinic, she worked for the Bronx Health Plan as a Quality Management Analyst.  Ms. Schliefer holds a bachelor's degree from Colgate University.
Ms. Betshally Torres, Patient Accounts Supervisor, has been promoted to the position of Clinic Manager of the Ocular Disease Service in the University Optometric Center (UOC).  She will be responsible for the administrative day-to-day operations of the service.  Ms. Torres has been with the UOC for four years and is currently pursuing her bachelor's degree in business administration at Lehman College of the City University of New York.  Her patient accounts experience will be a valuable resource for the staff and patients of the service.
Roslyn IsabelleMs. Roslyn Isabelle, Clerk 1 in the Ocular Disease Service, has been promoted to Calculations Clerk 2 in the Department of Patient Accounts.  She will work in the patient account areas within the clinic.  Ms. Isabelle has been with the University Optometric Center for over 11 years.  Prior to joining the UOC, she worked with Chase Manhattan Bank for ten years as a Data Entry Clerk.  She brings an extensive knowlege of front desk operations to her new position.
Ms. Lois Edwards, Staff Assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences, has decided to retire and relocate to Atlanta, Georgia.  Lois has been with the College for more than 16 years.  We wish her best wishes in her new home and success in her future endeavors. 
Copyright 2008, SUNY State College of Optometry, All rights reserved.
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