Focused on Excellence in Optometric Education and Vision Research

College Receives “Insight Into Diversity” 2023 HEED Award

For the fifth consecutive year, The Ohio State University College of Optometry has received this award.
Dr. Wendy Smooth, Dr. Vondolee Delgado-Nixon and Dr. Melissa Gilliam
Dr. Wendy Smooth, Dr. Vondolee Delgado-Nixon and Dr. Melissa Gilliam at an event recognizing Ohio State’s 2023 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award winners.

INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award logoFor the fifth consecutive year, The Ohio State University College of Optometry has received the Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

As a recipient of the 2023 Health Professions HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — Ohio State Optometry was featured in the November/December 2023 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

The Health Professions HEED Award selection process includes of a comprehensive and rigorous application exploring student and employee recruitment and retention best practices and leadership support of diversity and inclusion efforts.

Ohio State Optometry’s steadfast commitment to creating an environment in which students, faculty, staff and patients from all backgrounds thrive has the unwavering support of its leaders.

“The HEED distinction reminds us to continue to focus on our core values. As we recruit and develop the nation’s top optometrists and leaders in the profession, inclusive excellence is at the top of our minds,” said Dean Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD. 

Our curriculum includes not only the rigorous classroom and clinical experiences you’d expect from Ohio State but a leadership component as well. We aim to educate future doctors from diverse backgrounds who lead with empathy.
Dean Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD

Recent strategic highlights include:

  • A Voluntary 21-Day Equity Habit-Building Challenge for students, staff and faculty;
  • The Improving Diversity in Optometric Careers (I-DOC) summer student program;
  • BuckEye Launch, a five-day, immersive summer orientation program;
  • Coursework to help students provide inclusive care;
  • Interprofessional courses designed to help decrease health disparities; and
  • Co-curricular book and film clubs, as well as invited speakers.

“One of our proudest initiatives is I-DOC (Improving Diversity in Optometric Careers), an intensive residential program that teaches students about optometry school and the various ways that graduates practice optometry,” said Chief Diversity Officer Vondolee Delgado-Nixon, PhD. “Also, this year for the first time, we are collaborating with other health science colleges at Ohio State on a program called PXP (Professional Exploration Program), which introduces undergraduate students to an array of career opportunities in the health professions at Ohio State.”

Ohio State Optometry proudly joins its campus health sciences peers on this esteemed list, The Ohio State University Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Veterinary Medicine.