It will serve the Appalachia region.

Tusculum College plans to enroll the first students in its new optometry program in 2020.

The program will be located on the college's Greeneville campus, according to Tusculum's website. A news report in December was less specific about the timeline, stating that Tusculum hoped to launch the program within five years, enrolling about 70 students.

Tusculum will be seeking accreditation from the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, the national accrediting agency for optometry schools. Tusculum has applied for a “level change” with the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges, its regional accreditor, which would authorize the institution to award its first doctoral degree.

Dr. Andrew Buzzelli, executive vice president of the College of Health Sciences, joined Tusculum in early January and is leading efforts to start the School of Optometry and other programs. The programs, including physician assistant studies, occupational therapy and physical therapy, will fall under the new College of Health Sciences.

“These initiatives are in the very early stages of seeking permission to proceed from the accrediting bodies of both professional organizations,” Buzzelli said. “These exciting new programs further Tusculum’s commitment to serving the needs of our students, our region’s employers and population. In particular, we will provide care for the unserved and underserved citizens of Appalachia and rural America. The Tusculum community sees this civic development as a reflection of Tusculum’s growth and progress as a rising university.”

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