In a surprising reversal of last week’s controversial renaming of Nova Southeastern University’s optometry program, the school and its corporate benefactor, National Vision—the retailer that owns America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Eyeglass World and Vista Opticals—have parted ways, according to an announcement late Monday afternoon.
“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 in the October 1 release.
Previous statements promised the endowment would have been reserved for student scholarships, faculty research and lab equipment. However, many observers expressed skepticism and dismay at the prospect of a venerated educational institution taking on corporate branding. A Facebook group that sought have the decision repealed (Keep the Prestige–Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry) celebrated Monday, with several claiming victory. “See what we can do when we come together,” said the group’s founder Brandon Cornish, OD, in a post on the group’s page.
Although sources at the institution could not confirm whether these protests had any specific impact, in a letter to faculty, students and staff, Dr. Hanbury seemed to address the reaction among the optometric community, saying “I appreciate the passion and engagement that many NSU optometry students, faculty and alumni have expressed.”