A National Vision donation has been canceled.
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL -- Nova Southeastern University’s College of Optometry and National Vision Inc. have mutually agreed to end their recently announced philanthropic agreement.
On Sept. 25, NSU announced that the College of Optometry had received a "significant" philanthropic commitment from National Vision. The amount was not disclosed.
The endowment would have provided the college with student scholarships, faculty research, and equipment for the college’s simulation lab. Also, as a result of National Vision’s support, the College of Optometry agreed to rename the NSU National Vision College of Optometry for an initial term of 10 years.
All terms under this agreement have been terminated, according to a press release.
“Although our organizations share many core values – particularly for serving our larger communities – we have come to realize that the issues associated with corporate philanthropy in the health sciences are still too nascent,” said Dr. George Hanbury, NSU’s president and CEO. “This topic deserves further thought and consideration over time from the broader academic, professional, philanthropic, and alumni communities. To that end, the CEO of National Vision and I have mutually agreed to end this philanthropic partnership. We greatly appreciate National Vision’s well-intended philanthropic gift and partnership, and look forward to continuing to explore meaningful collaborations between our two organizations in the future.”
National Vision has been a longtime supporter of NSU and its optometry education program, including having donated a major piece of equipment - a binocular indirect ophthalmoscope simulator - to the College of Optometry's training lab in 2015. The company has also sponsored numerous student events over the past few years.
“National Vision is and will always be an ‘optometrist-centric’ organization,” said Reade Fahs, CEO of National Vision. “We will continue to assess the most productive and impactful approaches for investing in optometric education to do our part in advancing the profession of optometry.”
In a Sept. 28 letter addressed to the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, the American Optometric Association had questioned the appropriateness of the naming arrangement. National Vision's goals "are frequently at direct odds with priorities advocated for by the profession’s representative associations, the AOA and AOA-affiliated state associations," according to the letter.
"We recognize that corporate support of educational institutions is not new," the letter continued. "However, we feel that naming a school after a corporation is inappropriate, and suggestive of a relationship between the donor and the program that has the potential to influence the curriculum, especially as its relates to the development of practice skills through externship programs and other means."
Dr. Samuel Pierce, AOA president, said in a media statement: "Clearly, the students, faculty and alumni and the AOA raised the right concerns at the right time to help bring about this result. The lesson is clear: We must remain ever vigilant to protect and advance our profession."