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Celebrated Optometry Educator Inaugurated First Female President of Marshall B. Ketchum University

Marshall B. Ketchum University turns to longtime faculty member Dr. Julie Schornack to lead the Southern California institution.

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Celebrated Optometry Educator Inaugurated First Female President of Marshall B. Ketchum University

There are only 24 schools of optometry in the United States.

So when one of them gets a new president it is a big deal.

When the new president also happens to be the schools’ first female president, it is an even bigger deal.

Marshall B. Ketchum University, home of the Southern California School of Optometry, formally introduced Julie A. Schornack, OD, MEd as its next president during an inauguration event Friday, April 28.

Dr. Schornack has been a faculty member at the venerable Fullerton, CA institution for more than 35 years. She plans to put her vast experience to work in her new role. She also understands the historical significance of her ascension to the top of university leadership.

“Sometimes entry into leadership has everything to do with timing,” said Dr. Schornack, during her inauguration speech. “Although I initially downplayed the significance of being the first woman president, I now would like to embrace the importance.

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“You know who it is important to? It is important to my daughters and to your daughters, and to every student at the university as an example of what they can be. So being the first female president is something that I am proud of, and I wear the cloak with great honor.”

From her biography available on the MBKU website:

“Dr. Schornack has been at the college since 1986. Dr. Schornack received her optometry degree from the Illinois College of Optometry in 1984. She then completed a Masters of Education at Pacific University College of Optometry.

She has served as an Assistant Professor in the Cornea and Contact Lens Service where she had responsibilities in the lecture, laboratory and clinic. Dr. Schornack has also been involved in contact lens research and has lectured extensively on contact lens-related topics.

Over the course of her time at the University she has served in a variety of positions including Associate Dean of Clinical Education, Vice President of Clinical Affairs for the Southern California College of Optometry and most recently, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff for the University.”

Hundreds attended the on-campus event, which doubled as a 10-year anniversary celebration of the university’s expansion and name change in 2013. The ceremony included a moving moment when attendees, including the Board of Trustees, faculty, and students, stood in unity with Dr. Schornack to mark her years of service as they looked forward to what comes next.

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“President Schornack and I have known each other for many years, and I have always admired her passion for overseeing fine details, while at the same time, keeping focused on the bigger picture and how it all fits together,” said keynote speaker, Sally Dillehay, OD, EdD and chief medical officer at ClinTrialSolutions, LLC. “I have watched Dr. Schornack oversee the thousands of details needed for an educational community focused on excellence in patient care, while keeping her eyes on the bigger purpose of collaboration across multiple disciplines, something that is no small feat in today’s complex and ever-changing world of clinical education.”

MBKU opened in 1904 as the Los Angeles Medical School of Ophthalmology and Optometry. The private, non-profit institution has had a fascinating history of name changes since – 10 in all, including eight in its first 44 years. Most recently, the institution was known as the Southern California College of Optometry from 1972 to 2013.

The current name honors founder Marshall B. Ketchum, MD. It was adopted when the school became a multi-discipline institution 10 years ago with the addition of its School of PA Studies. It added a College of Pharmacy in 2014.

You can watch the full inauguration ceremony here.

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