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Dean Flanagan Named President of ASCO

Berkeley Optometry Dean and Professor John Flanagan has been named president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ACSO) for 2020-2021. Dr. Flanagan chatted with ASCO’s Director of Communications, Kimberly O’Sullivan to talk about his goals for the upcoming year. In that conversation, which is published on the ASCO website, Dr. Flanagan said that he will continue to focus on increasing the number of applicants to optometry programs across the country, raising the profile of our profession with top-tier STEM students nationally as future doctors and patients. Nestled within this goal is his personal commitment to encouraging more diverse applicants. “As a profession we need to do better. With less than 3% black students nationally we have to do better. This will be a major focus of my presidency.”

On ASCO’s role in supporting and promoting the profession, Dr. Flanagan said that “there is a need for ASCO to play a role in national coordination, advocacy, policy and communication, alongside our partner organizations. During the onset of the pandemic the ASCO board met informally on a weekly basis. It became a welcome sanity check and invaluable exchange of experiences and ideas as we each worked through the problems of remote education, lock down, PPE, urgent and emergent care, mental health, ACOE requirements, COPE regulations, National Boards, graduation, state licensure and clinic reopening protocols. Never has it been more obvious that ASCO needs to be a strong national voice for education, research, students, faculty, and residents.”

Dr. Flanagan also talked about areas of optometry that are of great interest to him and that he believes are underestimated and underserved. “In partnership with Kovin Naidoo and Hasan Minto, Berkeley Optometry is in the process of establishing the Berkeley Vision CURE (Children’s Uncorrected Refractive Error) initiative, a service and research organization with the simple but ambitious goal of ensuring that every child has access to eye care and vision correction by the year 2050. There are approximately 2.7 billion people living with uncorrected refractive error (URE), making URE the world’s most widespread unaddressed disability (World Report on Vision. WHO, 2019), and children are carrying much of this burden. Of the 2.7 billion people with URE, approximately 1 billion are aged 18 years or younger. By the year 2050 there will be more than 1.3 billion children with myopia alone. Of the 1 billion children with URE, over 90% will live in countries with developing economies. Along with colleagues Sarah Kochik, Ian Bailey, Luigi Bilotto and others, it is time to organize and serve.”

Congrats Dr. Flanagan! We know that ASCO is in good hands.

Read the ASCO Article