Impressions of Impact

Visionary Appreciation Dinner Honors Donors; Sally Haltom Presented with Ewalt Award
Dr. Don Mutti with optometry students at the Visionary Appreciation Dinner
Don Mutti, OD, PhD, and students Rachael Lux (’24), Sidney Parks (’24), Emily Magas (’24) and Jelissa Rozendaal (’24).

On April 15, 2023, The Ohio State University College of Optometry celebrated our most generous alumni and friends and current scholarship recipients at our eighth Visionary Appreciation Dinner. This special event is a wonderful opportunity for our students to understand the importance of giving back and for our benefactors to meet the future of the profession that they are supporting.  

Dean Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD, warmly welcomed attendees and provided an update about the college. She mentioned that unfortunately the 2023 Bailey Medal recipients were unable to attend the gathering; they will be honored at the 2024 event instead. In light of this, the focus of this year’s celebration was directed toward our student scholarship recipients. After a delightful dinner, the discussion shifted to emphasizing the importance of scholarships, and the audience had the privilege of hearing from three students who personally benefitted from alumni support. 

First to speak was Josh Canavan (OD/MS’23), president of the Class of 2023, who did his undergraduate work at Canisius College of Buffalo, New York. He was the recipient of the Tom (OD’79, MS’81) and Susan (OD’82) Quinn Endowed Scholarship and received a White Coat Scholarship over the past few years, which has been supported by Bruce Manning (OD’81) and Joanne Manning. Following graduation, he began a residency at the Cincinnati Eye Institute. He noted during his speech that optometry school can certainly be a financial challenge, but others in our lives make it easier when things get difficult.

The second student to speak was Shihij Takoo (’24), who comleted her undergraduate studies at Ohio State. She is a recipient of the Optometry General Scholarship Fund, which many alumni and friends have supported over the years. Often, we use it to recruit prospective students. It’s rare for second- or third-year students to receive this award, making it quite prestigious. Shihij shared that she wanted a career involving science and has learned that she also has a passion for teaching and research. She thanked the optometry community for their collective support of this fund.

Our final student was Adam Bayer (’24), who did his undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University. He is the recipient of the Ronald Ling (OD’78), an Eagle Scout, and Caron Ann Lau Optometry Scholarship. Adam shared that originally he thought he might want to be an ophthalmologist but decided against it after a shadowing experience. He ultimately used a career selecting computer program to help him decide to head to optometry instead.  

After the students spoke, we had one final award to bestow that has only been given 12 other times in the last 30 years. The H. Ward Ewalt Medal is awarded to individuals for outstanding dedication and service to the profession of optometry. Upon receiving a university award in 1990, Dr. Ewalt said that one of the most important things to him was, “the effort to make the College of Optometry at Ohio State University the top optometric program in the world.” Following that statement, a medal was established in his honor.

Sally Haltom, MA, is the 13th Ewalt Medal recipient. Sally spent her 35-year career encouraging and guiding thousands of Ohio State students along their academic paths. The College of Optometry was fortunate to be her final career stop, and she stayed with us for nearly a decade of service until she retired. Many of our graduates remember her for her sage advice and mentoring as they moved through our challenging college curriculum. In fact, one of our Bailey Medalists, Jeff Williams (OD’07), named a scholarship in honor of Sally because of her dedication to the success of our students.

Sally Haltom pictured with her family
Sally Haltom celebrating with her family: (l to r) son Mike, granddaughter Lexi, daughter-in-law Racheal, Sally, and husband Wayne.

Sally received her English Education degree from Bowling Green University and then went on to receive her master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs. Following graduation, she became an Academic Advisor for the Ohio State Lima Campus. She soon made her way to the main campus and continued her advisor role for University College. During her time there, she advised more than 500 students, coordinated orientations, and taught two classes.  

She then spent time at the College of Nursing as an academic counselor. Her role included coordinating all college recruitment, retention, and career planning functions. In addition, she served as academic counselor to prospective and enrolled undergraduate nursing students and was the advisor to the Nursing Student Council.  

Sally made a move to the College of Pharmacy with the same title of academic counselor but with an expanded list of responsibilities. She coordinated the development of the recruitment and admissions processes and programs for a new entry-level Doctor of Pharmacy degree program and managed the college’s participation in the Young Scholars career exploration program.

Over her career, she’s also received various awards including the Mortar Board Outstanding Faculty and Staff Award, Research Apprenticeship Program Distinguished Service Award, the Ohio State Distinguished Service to Student Development Award, and the prestigious Ohio State Distinguished Staff Award.

We are thrilled to add one more award to that impressive list with the College of Optometry H. Ward Ewalt Medal. Congratulations to Sally for this honor.

Thank you to all who attended this event, as well as those who continue to philanthropically support the college. We look forward to seeing many more of you added to this prestigious group in the coming years.