A Message from Dean Karla Zadnik
“Justice is what love looks like in public.” – Cornel West, PhD
Words truly fail. 2020 was to be our year of vision. Now we feel like it’s the year we know we needed to see; we must not look away. We must continue to strive to rise above society’s racist demons and to emerge more just, better, and kinder.
At the College of Optometry, we continue to be devastated by the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. My heart goes out to those of you who are in pain from these events. As we look beyond our heartbreak toward a better future for all, we know that simply saying we are dedicated to inclusion and diversity is not enough – we must act. No matter how evolved or aware we believe ourselves to be, there’s so much more we can do. Above all right now, do not add to anyone else’s pain.
In a plan conceived almost a year ago, this week we announced the appointment of Dr. Vondolee Delgado-Nixon as the college’s Chief Diversity Officer, replacing beloved retiring clinical professor of optometry and alumna, Dr. Jacqueline Davis.
Jackie’s academic resume is long and distinguished with an MPH, several stints as president of Ohio’s optometry licensing board, the Ohio Optometric Association’s Optometrist of the Year, and the Distinguished Educator recognition from the American Optometric Association. As a clinician and student advisor and confidante extraordinaire, she has counseled countless students professionally and personally and inspired them to be the optometrists they have and will become. I will miss her (and her smile) every day.
Jackie leaves the Chief Diversity Officer position in capable, caring hands. For those of you who don’t know her, Vondolee is a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is deeply connected with her family roots and self-identifies as Hispanic with Native American grandmothers (Tewa and Apache). The students call her VDN, with or without a Dr. in front of that, and that familiarity denotes their confidence in her. I know Vondolee will channel Jackie as she continues to advise students, albeit now on a bigger administrative stage. I also know that Vondolee will approach her new role with unswerving commitment and her trademark, remarkable energy and compassion.
To say that Vondolee has embraced an open-door policy is an understatement. In her first week as Chief Diversity Officer, she already has made herself available to address diversity issues ranging from microaggressions to overt racism. She welcomes input on a one-on-one, confidential basis, and she is meeting with campus leaders to develop diversity programming for our faculty, staff, and students (firstname.lastname@example.org).
My (virtual for now) door, heart, and mind are always open as well. As dean, I unwaveringly lead a team that is committed to creating and maintaining a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for all. We believe as strongly as ever that change is needed to address inequity. We’ve said that we celebrate diversity. Now is the time is to defend it.
Dean Karla Zadnik, OD PhD