The purpose of Increasing Diversity of Optometric Careers (I-DOC) is to attract underrepresented undergraduate college students to careers in optometry. Since 2008, this three-day summer program has introduced participants to coursework and hands-on experiences in eye care and vision. Already the I-DOC program has shown significant success, with many of the former I-DOC participants accepted to, attending, or graduating from a college of optometry. Thanks to underwriting by Vision Service Plan, there is no registration fee for the program, and all meals, housing, and activities are included.

For more information on the I-DOC program, please visit: https://u.osu.edu/idoc

New Student Dinner

This takes place during the first month of autumn semester to welcome new diverse optometry students to the College of Optometry and begin to provide them with the support they need to succeed in the classroom, in the clinics, and in their optometric careers. Our diverse students, faculty, staff, and alumni meet for dinner, introductions, advice, and conversation.

Career Conversations

Early into spring semester, underrepresented minority optometrists are invited to serve as panel members, sharing information about their career paths, backgrounds, and ups and downs of optometric practices. They answer questions posed by a moderator and by students. The students who attend the event appreciate the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the panelists and ask them questions.  In recent years, this has taken place off campus at a restaurant, and students move from table to table to have conversations with the optometrists. 

Farewell Induction

[This is a farewell dinner for graduating diverse students in which they are acknowledged and thanked for their current and future contributions to the causes of recruitment and retention of diverse students to optometry and the provision of optometric care to underserved populations.

National Optometric Student Association (NOSA)


The National Optometric Association (NOA) was founded in 1969 as a not-for-profit organization and is comprised primarily of minority optometrists from throughout the United States. The student chapter, NOSA, is open to all students in the college. It promotes the recruitment and support of minority students in optometry. Students in NOSA participate in outreach activities, vision and glaucoma screenings, guest lectures, social activities, and mentoring programs. The OSU chapter was awarded the chapter of the year in 1993, 2000, 2004, and 2014. The college helps support student attendance at the annual NOA conference, which provides opportunities for networking with diverse optometrists.

Financial Aid

A variety of financial aid options are available to students, including scholarships endowed for minority students admitted to the program.

The Welton Scholarship is an endowment established by Dr. and Mrs. H.E. Welton to provide scholarships for Black and Hispanic students in the College of Optometry. In 1938, Dr. Welton was the first African American person to receive a degree in optometry from The Ohio State University.


The Big Sib/Little Sib program matches incoming students with current second-year students in the college. Through formal and informal interactions, students have the opportunity to gain valuable information, advice, and moral support from their more experienced peers.


The Office of Student Services manages a tutoring program in which upperclassmen provide tutoring for students needing assistance in learning course materials.

Why is cultural competency important in optometry?

Cultural competency training leads to:

  • increased self-awareness and receptivity to diverse patient populations;
  • enhancement of knowledge about cultures, patient demographics, and public health issues in vision and health care
  • clinical excellence and alliances with patients to improve diagnosis and management of vision, eye, and health problems.

[several videos of students speaking in non-English language (and then English):  welcome + topic (health care disparities, importance of cultural competencies, cultural differences in health care, other diversity topics)]

ASCO Guidelines for Culturally Competent Eye and Vision Care


Members of the faculty assisted in the development of these guidelines of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and have been instrumental in developing workshops to the other assist schools and colleges of optometry throughout the United States in implementing these guidelines. The college has been awarded grants from ASCO for its work in diversity and cultural competency. It has assisted in the development of ASCO’s cultural competency case study competition for optometry students and residents in an effort to promote cultural competency at schools and colleges of optometry.

Multicultural Curricular and Co-curricular Activities

The college promotes the continuous development of multicultural curricular and co-curricular experiences, and encourages students, faculty, and staff to participate in provided programs.  Workshops, classroom experiences, and clinics address attitudes, knowledge, and skills that are necessary to provide culturally competent vision care.  Co-curricular activities include diversity speakers, cultural competency training programs, web-based courses, reading materials, and programs offered by the Medical Center, Buckeye Learn, and the Multicultural Center. 

  • Open Doors is a four-hour anti-bias training designed to create a safer and more welcoming environment which acknowledges that acts of bias occur and helps participants understand how to respond.
  • Safe Zone training creates a safer and more inclusive environment for all members of the campus community by reducing heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia.

The OSUCO outreach and engagement activities are varied and robust.  These community-directed programs have been established to fulfill the OSUCO mission statement of:  “…educating excellent optometrists who reflect our diverse communities through our professional, residency and continuing education programs.”  Our mission statement also strives to “…provide excellent optometric care to the community, through our teaching clinics, externships sites, and residency programs.”    The following examples highlight some of the College’s outreach and engagement initiatives.  The outreach programs, therefore, involve two strategic goals:  (1) provision of optometry outreach programs to underrepresented minority students in order to educate them about how the eye works, vision disorders, eye diseases, eye safety, the importance of eye examinations, and the profession of optometry; and (2) provision of vision care to underserved populations.

Strategic Goal 1:  Provide optometry outreach programs to underrepresented minority students in order to educate them about how the eye works, vision disorders, eye diseases, eye safety, the importance of eye examinations, and the profession of optometry.

  • On-Site Optometry Programs for Underrepresented Minority Students

There are several programs for underrepresented minority students that regularly request optometry’s participation in on-site presentations and workshops.  The participants in these programs are elementary school, middle school, high school, and undergraduate college students.  Workshops are tailored to the needs of the programs.  They have included:  cow eye dissections, optics laboratories, use of ophthalmic equipment, case studies, techniques for examination of the visual system, and audience participation presentations.

  • Metro High School Bodies Program

“Bodies” is a yearlong STEM Early College experience that integrates biomedical technologies and college coursework to promote student interest, growth and development in the biomedical and health sciences.  Select students from Metro High School engage in rotations through The Ohio State University health professions, are immersed in capstone research projects with practicing scientists and medical personnel, and take Biology courses, as well as the Project Lead the Way curriculum.  At the College of Optometry, they work in groups of three each week for three hours on a patient case.  Annually, over the course of a 5-6 week time frame, 20-25 Metro High School students come to the OSUCO for an introductory session, exposing them to an optometric case presentation detailing a patient who is experiencing vision problems.  The students are challenged to develop an assessment and treatment plan for this fictional patient, based on specific chief complaints and clinical findings.  These students are then offered a tour of the facilities that culminates with a digital photo of their own retinal fundus and hands-on experience with vision technology. 

  • Collaboration with Cristo Rey Columbus High School

Cristo Rey Columbus High School a college-preparatory high school with a professional work-study program that empowers young men and women from economically challenged families, to graduate from high school and college an achieve a lifetime of success. Field trips include guided cow eye dissections, presentations on vision disorders and eye diseases, discussion of the eye examination and vision instruments, activities on ocular involvement in systemic diseases, presentation on the academic requirements of optometry, and a panel of optometry students and faculty.

Strategic Goal 2:  Provide vision care to underserved populations

  • Fourth Year Clinical Rotation Program

The fourth year clinical experience at the OSUCO is divided into four 13 week clinical rotations. Two rotations that are in Columbus and the surrounding area are called the In-House Internship and the Primary Care Externship. 

The two other  rotations are externships in locations around the US including: Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia.  These extern rotations are called Ocular Disease Externship which entails a full quarter assigned to a Veteran’s Administration Optometry Clinic and the Advanced Practice Externship.

The Primary Care Externship is devoted to time spent in a private optometric office, a private ophthalmology practice, ophthalmology referral center or clinic and an OSUCO Community Outreach Clinic.  The Community Outreach Clinics expose our students to facets of optometric practice that are not accessible within the confines of our campus facilities.  These outreach locations not only expose our students to significant ocular disease and challenging treatment options, but it allows our students opportunities to witness the benefits of community service, altruistic giving and empathetic communication.

Our Outreach Clinics include vision care facilities within a free homeless shelter health center operated by the Lutheran Services Faith Mission. Another outreach clinic is located in a federally qualified community health center in Franklinton which has the distinction of having the highest poverty rate within the city of Columbus.

The Ohio State School for the Blind (OSSB) is another outreach location where our students attend to the basic eye care needs of the 120 enrolled blind children, ensuring that treatable conditions are adequately addressed so that they may have the most usable vision possible, both in the short and long-term.  Outreach activities also take place in the Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare facility, which is a psychiatric hospital where mentally unstable individuals are placed to determine their ability to function productively in society. 

  • Student Directed Activities

American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) Hispanic Clinical Day

Each year, the OSU Chapter of the American Optometric Student Association sponsors a free clinic day devoted to the needs of Hispanic individuals who have no vision healthcare insurance and cannot afford to pay for such services.  Faculty and staff volunteer their service for this outreach program and medical interpreter services are donated through the help of the OSU Multicultural Center.  Students attend several Hispanic community activities such as the Latin Festival and the Mobile Mexican Consulate to advertise the clinical event.

Albert Schweitzer Fellowship

The original Hispanic Clinical Day was started by an OSUCO Albert Schweitzer Fellow in 2012.  That Fellow found a way to sustain her project by encouraging the AOSA to adopt the project and continue its sight saving mission.  Over the last 4 years, three OSUCO students have competed for and have been awarded Schweitzer Fellowships, giving them the opportunity to develop and implement their own community-based public health interventions.  Their projects ranged from senior citizen low vision interventions, to Hispanic services to vision screenings for youth enrolled in a summer athletic camp.

εϒε Vision Care Fund

The Vision Care Fund has been established by the εϒε student fraternity in an effort to provide funding to individuals in need of vision exams and spectacle eyewear, but who cannot afford to pay for them.  Therefore, the Vision Care Fund will continue to be a valuable source of assistance to those in need within the Central Ohio community.

The OSUCO Chapter of the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA)

The OSUCO NOSA is dedicated to providing effective eye care to minority and underserved communities. In addition, NOSA creatively markets the field of optometry in an effort to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities into the profession.

Since 2008, the OSUCO chapter of the NOSA has provided free glaucoma screenings to over 2,000 individuals within the central Ohio area.  Any person who was identified as having a potential vision problem was given information about facilities where they could receive free vision services. 

In conjunction with the C-ID, the NOSA has participated in annual events such as a Welcome Dinner for incoming minority students, and Career Conversations which brings together students with ODs practicing in urban community settings.

International Mission Trips

Each year, several teams of students and doctors representing the OSUCO Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH) and the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists (FCO) travel to third world countries to provide services to individuals in need of vision healthcare.  During these mission trips, students are involved in diagnosing and managing diabetes, glaucoma, cataracts and corneal problems, while correcting many patients with significant refractive error.  They dispense spectacles, sunglasses, and ophthalmic medications. 


Students from the FCO chapter at OSUCO volunteer at the Gamertsfelder Mission Center in Jamaica during spring break each year.  The help in the examination and care of patients and observe cataract and glaucoma procedures, as well as other types of eye surgery.


Eyes on Health

Eyes on Health is an undergraduate student organization at The Ohio State University that is advised by Dr. Joan Nerderman of the College of Optometry.  It provides students with the opportunity to become involved in outreach, service, and education with a focus on health and vision.  It also educates its members about the profession of optometry.  Outreach includes vision screenings, glaucoma tests, educational opportunities to learn more about vision, Real Eyes presentations, and service trips through Remote Area Medical. 

Remote Area Medical (RAM)

Undergraduate and professional optometry students participate in organized medical missions within the United States, providing vision care to remote communities primarily in Appalachian areas.  Our students have had opportunities to work with volunteering optometry students from other optometry schools, sharing experiences and having positive impacts on communities in need.

RAM consists of more than 100,000 volunteer vision, dental, veterinary, and medical professionals.  Its mission is to prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing free, quality health care to those in need.  It was founded by Stan Brock, the Emmy award-winning star of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.  Since 1985, RAM has provided more than $112 million worth of free health care services to over 700,000 individuals and 67,000 animals.  Mobile medical clinics deliver free, high-quality services to children, individuals, and families who do not have access or cannot afford health care.

Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI)


ODI is one of the oldest and most prominent offices of its kind in the nation. It supports the recruitment, retention, and success of students, faculty, and staff who enhance the diversity of The Ohio State University. House in historic Hale Hall, it oversees the Hale Black Cultural Center, the Todd Anthony Bell National Resources Center on the African American Male, the American Disability Act Program, the nine-city Young Scholars Program, the Latino and Latin American Space for Enrichment and Research (LASER), the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), ACCESS Collaborative program to assist low-income single parent students, and Gender and Sexual Diversity Initiatives. It employs more than eighty staff members to assist students in these programs, as well as with tutoring, mentoring, research opportunities, and social activities. It provides meeting space, computer labs, classrooms, lounge areas, and an extensive art gallery, which includes works from nationally recognized artists and minority alumni of The Ohio State University.

Multicultural Center (MCC)


The MCC houses a wealth of offices to support and celebrate the many cultures, lifestyles, and interests of the diverse population of Ohio State. The center provides assistance to student organizations, student services, advocacy, and outreach programs for the campus and Columbus communities. It provides numerous education and training opportunities and a variety of resources to all students, faculty, and staff. It supports and celebrates specific constituency groups, including African and African American, Asian and Asian American, American Indian/Indigenous, Latino, Bay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Women, Men and Faith communities.

Office of International Affairs (OIA)


OIA helps facilitate the development and growth of the Global Gateways (OSU offices in key parts of the world) and oversees Study Abroad, International Students and Scholars, the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, and five Area Studies Centers.

The Committee for Inclusion and Diversity (C-ID) supports all activities related to diversity, inclusion, and cultural competency.  The faculty, staff and students who make up the C-ID work to identify critical diversity issues, formulate and propose diversity goals, develop strategies and implement activities that support those goals, and analyze and track progress in achieving those objectives.


The Committee for Inclusion and Diversity advances excellence by improving and advocating for diversity, inclusion, cultural/diversity competencies, and outreach.


The mission of the Committee for Inclusion and Diversity includes:

  • To improve the diversity of faculty, staff, and students at the College of Optometry
  • To foster a welcoming environment at the College of Optometry
  • To support equity and cultural competency
  • To provide outreach services and education to underserved populations


To achieve diversity reflective of our larger community, a welcoming environment, and cultural competency in optometric education and patient care

Core Values

  • Diverse faculty, staff, and students

Diversity is the entire range of human differences that includes, but is not limited to, race, ethnicity, language, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status or occupation, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values systems, national origin or political beliefs, temperament or personality, work style, education, or cultural background.

  • Environment of inclusiveness

An inclusive environment is one in which the climate and culture of the institution encourages an active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity and in which all individuals are welcome, valued, and respected and their inherent dignity and worth are recognized.

  • Cultural Competency

Cultural competence is a set of congruent attitudes, knowledge, skills, behaviors, and policies that enable individuals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. 

  • Outreach

Outreach provides services and education to groups that might not otherwise have access to them.

Strategic Goals

  • Strategic Area 1:  Increase optometry student diversity with an emphasis on traditionally underrepresented students
  • Strategic Area 2:  Encourage the hiring and retention of diverse faculty and staff at the College of Optometry
  • Strategic Area 3:  Foster an environment that is welcoming to all
  • Strategic Area 4:  Improve the cultural/diversity competencies of the students, faculty, and staff
  • Strategic Area 5:  Support and encourage outreach programs to underserved populations