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Optical College to Receive $20M Donation

The gift will be divided over five years.

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TUCSON, AZ – The University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences has received a $20 million pledge to support 10 new endowed faculty positions.

The gift comes from the college’s founding dean, Professor Emeritus James C. Wyant, and his family. It is the largest gift for endowed faculty chair positions in the university’s history, according to a press release.

“This is an incredible, enabling moment for the College of Optical Sciences, giving us an unprecedented opportunity to advance the rapidly expanding ways that optics and photonics can improve our lives,” said Thomas L. Koch, dean of the College of Optical Sciences.

The gift will be received over five years.

UA President Robert C. Robbins said, “Jim Wyant’s leadership, vision and support for students has already had an incredible impact on the UA College of Optical Sciences, and his legacy is one of the main reasons why the UA is a global leader in optics and photonics. We are all very grateful to Dr. Wyant and his family for their exemplary leadership and extraordinary generosity that will advance one of the university’s top priorities.”

He added that the gift “will support faculty and enhance our students’ experience by enabling an environment that fosters leadership, learning, collaboration and connections, and it will help shape the success of UA students far into the future.”

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Wyant has co-founded Tucson-based businesses in optics such as WYKO Corp. and  4D Technology Corp.

Wyant said, “I am especially grateful to the university for its incredible flexibility when I was partway through my teaching career and wanted to start a company (WYKO). The financial success of that business has made these gifts possible.”

The leading reason for his gifts, he said, is to “ensure a pathway for the College of Optical Sciences to achieve even greater prominence and success in its education and research mission.”

In 2013, Wyant made a historic $10 million gift to the college for graduate student scholarships in a campaign called FoTO, an acronym for Friends of Tucson Optics. As a result of his initial gift, more than 250 additional donors contributed and 30 first-year graduate student scholarship endowments were established, each bearing the name of a donor.

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For the third year in a row, Safilo has looked to trusted eyecare professionals to star in its American Eyes campaign for its Elasta and Emozioni collections.Their latest testimonials are from Peter Tacia, O.D. and Heidi Dancer, optician, of Alma, MI, talking about two best-selling collections: Elasta and Emozioni.

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Optometry College Graduates Its First OD/MBA Student

She wanted a stronger understanding of the business side of optometry.

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Phillips

When Taylor Phillips graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry on May 10, she became the school’s first dual-degree doctor of optometry/master of business administration graduate, in a partnership with UAB’s Collat School of Business.

UAB’s OD/MBA dual-degree program is intended to give future optometrists a business foundation and education that will help them navigate their future as potential private practices owners and healthcare providers, the school said in a press release.

Phillips, a native of Gilbertown, AL, pursued the OD/MBA path to have a stronger understanding of the business side of optometry. She plans to enter private practice in rural and underserved Choctaw County upon completion of a yearlong residency in Tuscaloosa.

“In school, we learn clinical skills, develop strong patient interactions, understand the management of diseases and care, but we only learn about the top-line business aspects of our future career as optometrists,” Phillips said. “The completion of the OD/MBA program gave me the confidence to enter private practice, and I know it will help me give back to my community in a stronger way.”

Phillips completed her MBA courses in conjunction with her optometry curriculum and with students from other schools on UAB’s campus. Collat offers similar dual-degree paths for dental, medical, public health, engineering and health administration graduates as well.

While Phillips is the first OD/MBA graduate, several other students are currently enrolled in the program.

“The UAB MBA prepares professionals to lead and manage a business enterprise in today’s dynamic marketplace,” said Eric P. Jack, dean of the Collat School of Business.

“Research shows the MBA has been one of the most effective educational programs for changing the world by enabling leaders to build strong, high-performing organizations and by leveraging the power of markets. We’re proud of this novel collaboration between the School of Optometry and the Collat School of Business.”

Prospective students who are interested in learning more about the dual-degree paths offered through Collat School of Business can learn more here.

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8-Location Eyecare Practice Closes Its Doors

It had operated since 1959.

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Union Eye Care, an eight-location practice in Northeast Ohio, has closed its doors.

WOIO-TV in Cleveland reports that employees received an email on May 7 stating:

“The Board of Trustees made the decision that Union Eye Care Inc. will be filing for bankruptcy. We will be closing all eight stores, our terminal optical lab and headquarters permanently effective Wednesday May 8, 2019.”

The business opened in 1959.

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Its website lists locations in Akron, Brunswick, Cleveland, Cleveland Clinic, Garfield Heights, Mentor, North Olmsted and Parma.

WOIO reports that it was unable to reach Union Eye Care representatives by phone or email.

Read more at WOIO-TV

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Shopko Optical Acquisition Completed; 80 Stores to Become Freestanding Locations

The previous owner filed for bankruptcy.

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GREEN BAY, WI — Monarch Alternative Capital LP announced the completion of its previously announced acquisition of Shopko Optical.

The company expects to relocate nearly 80 of its current locations housed inside Shopko stores to freestanding locations, according to a press release. Shopko is a retail chain that recently announced plans to wind down its operations.

“We are excited to welcome Shopko Optical into our portfolio and to invest in the company’s growth as we move forward with our strategy,” said Andrew Herenstein, co-founder and managing principal of Monarch. “Monarch has a long, successful history of investing in great companies undergoing transitions and working alongside their leadership teams to build strong, vibrant businesses of the future.”

Jim Eisen, former president of Visionworks, is working as an operating partner with Monarch alongside the Shopko Optical team.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to join the Shopko Optical team,” Eisen said. “We are committed to continuing to provide quality patient care and outstanding service that our affiliated doctors of optometry and opticians have provided for over 40 years. It is an exciting time to be part of the Shopko Optical family.”

Over the course of 2019, Shopko Optical expects to relocate approximately 80 stores, while continuing to serve patients and customers in their existing locations during the transition.

“As we move forward with our plans to operate 80 freestanding optical locations, we continue to be dedicated to our patients, doctors, opticians and the communities we serve,” said Russ Steinhorst, CEO of Shopko. “We encourage anyone with questions to please get in touch with our team. We appreciate the continued patronage of our patients and their understanding during what we hope to be a continued smooth transition.”

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