Western University of Health Sciences has named optometrist Elizabeth Hoppe as founding dean of its forthcoming college of optometry. The university, based in Pomona, Calif., plans to officially open the college in August 2009 with an estimated 50 to 70 students in its entering class.

I never expected to have such a wonderful opportunity to begin a program from the ground up. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime chance, Dr. Hoppe says. I have always enjoyed the opportunity to learn and grow, so I am very excited by this challenge.

The idea of a new college of optometry has been unwelcome news to many optometrists throughout the country. Dr. Hoppe says that this program will be different.

We are planning an innovative curriculum that will emphasize inter-professional educational opportunities and early entry into clinical care. One of the most exciting aspects is a plan for a case-based learning course that will involve students from each of the universitys graduate health professions working in teams to solve health care issues in a patient-centric manner, Dr. Hoppe says. Western University is uniquely suited to undertake this approach to learning, as it has already incorporated problem-based learning into many of the existing curricula.

The university also plans to open schools of podiatry and dentistry in 2009, adding to its current colleges of osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, nursing, allied health, and veterinary medicine.

Dr. Hoppe joins Western University from the New England College of Optometry, where she is the associate dean of academic affairs. Prior to this, she was a tenured professor at Southern California College of Optometry from 1990 to 2003. Dr. Hoppe was the first woman chosen as editor of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometrys peer reviewed journal, Optometric Education, and she is the first woman in optometry to hold a doctorate in public health.

With the appointment of Dr. Hoppe, Western University has entered the initial planning pahse of program development and will soon be applying for accreditation. "Western University"s college of optometry will strive to distinguish itself by forming its own identity," she says. "Our ultimate goal is to serve the profession and the public by producing highly qualified, caring and talented doctors of optometry."

Vol. No: 144:03Issue: 3/15/2007