Alumni Association

Board Meeting Minutes | May 1, 2009

Attendance: Dr. Linda Casser, Dr. David W. Friess, Dr. Thomas J. Landry, Dr. Thomas L. Lewis, Dr. Dennis H. Lyons, Dr. John. T. Ochsenreither, Dr. Kenneth W. Savitski, Ms. Lynne C. Corboy, Ms. Heather S. Giampapa.

Dr. Landry called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m. Dr. Lyons moved to approve the minutes from the November 2, 2008 meeting with Dr. Savitski seconding. The minutes were unanimously approved.
Dr. Linda Casser, Dean of the Optometry program, spoke to the Board about her extensive background in optometric education as a former Chief of The Eye Institute’s Module 4, with the Indiana University School of Optometry and the College of Optometry at Pacific University, as well as her recent career with the North Carolina Board of Examiners.

Dr. Casser’s appointment has allowed Tony Di Stefano to step down as Dean and dedicate his time to being Vice President of Academic Affairs. She has also taken on the role of Interim Associate Dean, allowing Jim Caldwell to focus on his duties as Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Director of Admissions. Dean Casser oversees PCO’s many program directors and has instituted monthly faculty meetings to ensure communication between the faculty, as well as one-on-one faculty meetings to facilitate communication between herself and the faculty. A search has been launched for an Associate Dean of the Practice of Optometric Medicine.

Dean Casser hopes to focus on the optometry’s programs curriculum, academic standards and support services. She is working closely with the Director of the Externship Program in an effort to better know how the sites are run and to better integrate the students to the school during their time off-campus. Dean Casser will attend Pennsylvania Optometric Association meetings, to work on strengthening collaboration between the school and the association. Dean Casser and TEI residents will be presenting a continuing education program during the 2009 Alumni Reunion weekend.

Dr. Savitski presented the Treasurer’s Report. [Please see attached.] Dr. Savtiski reported that with the recent economic downturn, the value of the Association’s investments have decreased over $23,000 since the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1st. The money is invested in the University’s portfolio. It is possible to invest some or all of the funds differently, such as a CD rather than the stock market. Alumni Association monies are important to the University as the Association regularly pledges support fundraising support that the school benefits from.

It was suggested that the Board consider fundraising efforts. In the past, the Alumni Association has hosted art auctions and continuing education programs. Locations, including the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas and North Carolina were discussed. Dr. Lyons suggested having the program on campus to utilize what the college can provide that other organizations cannot: the Hafter Center, the school’s equipment, facilities, computer labs and new technologies. Suggestions included recruiting students to be present and speak with attendees on their training, with residents compensated for serving as lab instructors. Corporate support could be sought in conjunction with the equipment, inviting them to have a specialist present to explain the equipment and its benefits. The Hafter Center could be set up as the equipment site, with procedures labs in the main academic building. An equipment fair for students could be held during the CE weekend, allowing companies to show their wares to students and alumni. The fair could be sponsored by the Alumni Association to help students become acquainted with the Association and its activities. Audiology and low vision companies could also be invited to participate.

With alumni seeing first-hand the education that students receive, they will be reminded why their support is important. Dean Casser suggested encouraging preceptors to attend and work in a meeting with them about their role in PCO’s externship program. It was suggested that the fall would be the best time, as first, second and third year students are on campus. Heather will look into the cost.

Dr. Landry gave the President’s Report and reported on the current fundraising campaigns.

  • Annual Fund

The goal for Fiscal Year 2009 is $180,000; to date, we have $117,607 in hand, with an additional $9,065 in pledges from the fall phone-a-thon campaign. We are currently running at 88% of what we had in-hand at this time last year, and at 65% of our overall goal. The spring phone-a-thon began this week and solicitations will continue to go out to alumni through the end of the fiscal year on June 30th.

The Office of Institutional Advancement has instituted a new fundraising appeal for the Alumni Reunion: a Reunion Class Fund Challenge. Each class that reaches 40% participation or $5,000 total money raised will participate in a champagne toast prior to dinner Saturday night. So far, the classes of 1969, 1974, 1984 and 1989 are guaranteed a toast, while 1959 and 1979 are very close. The phone-a-thon callers are publicizing the challenge, and a special mailing will go out in April to alert each class to their status.

  • George S. Osborne Memorial Scholarship

To-date this fiscal year, the Osborne Scholarship has $7,941 in hand, with an additional $2,168 pledged. Audiology grads are also included in the spring phone-a-thon and will be solicited through the mail, as well.

  • 2008 Raffle

The first mailing for the raffle was sent in late January, and as of March 1st, 243 of 450 tickets have been sold. Two months remain to sell the remaining 207 tickets. Last year all but 30 tickets were sold. A complete sell-out is hoped for this year for gross revenues of $45,000, $15,000 given in prizes net revenues of $30,000.

  • Ad Book

The Office of Institutional Advancement has sold $4,375 worth of ad pages for the Reunion Ad Book and will continue soliciting ads until early April.

Dr. Landry introduced Dr. Lewis. Dr. Lewis reported that the optometry program is currently under review from the ACOE, with results expected within the next month. Once accreditation is received, the College will be accredited through 2016. The arrival of Dean Casser has been positive. She serves as a new set of eyes to ensure that all that is good with the program continues and that improvements are made where needed.

The Eye Institute project is currently on hold, with the College waiting to hear about state monies for the project. Presently, a plan to construct a new institute is projected to cost $13.7 million. The school has secured a $5 million dollar loan and the current Commonwealth of Pennsylvania budge contains a $6 million project grant. The College has spent the past four month working with local and state legislators to gain commitments of funding from them, as well as the support of the governor. If this state money is not allotted for the project, the current building will be renovated from within, using the $5 million loan and money raised for the project.

The Audiology program is searching for a new Dean and the Physician Assistant Program is searching for a new Director.

Dr. Lyons gave the Awards Committee report. The Awards Committee has chosen Michele R. Haranin, OD ’89 as the 2009 Albert Fitch Memorial Alumna of the Year. Dr. Haranin serves as the Chair of the American Optometric Association’s Federal Relations Committee, sits on the Medical Home Project Team and is a former member of the State Legislation Committee. She is a past president and secretary of the Delaware State Board of Examiners in Optometry and a past president and current member of the Delaware Optometric Association. Dr. Haranin, in private practice since 1989, incorporated Vision Quest Eye Care Center in Dover, Delaware in 2000.

The Awards Committee has chosen Carl A. Polsky, Esq as the 2009 Recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. Carl Polsky has been a member of the PCO Board of Trustees, now the Salus University board, since 1987 and served as Chair from 1999 to 2006. He was an important member of the Finance Committee for many years and provided important counsel on our move to Elkins Park. Mr. Polsky played a pivotal role in the development of the Hafter Student Community Center and in the success of the Expanding the Vision campaign to fund its construction.

Dr. Ochsenreither gave the Bylaws Committee report. As discussed at the last meeting, many of the necessary bylaw changes were straightforward – College to University and specific dates were changed to more general ones. One topic that was not resolved upon at the November meeting was the issue of Alumni Association representation in University governance. It was suggested that the Immediate Past President serve on the appropriate College Advisory Board, having a greater impact and voice there than on the University Board. Dean Casser pointed out that the Immediate Past President serves a two-year term, while the College Advisory Board members serve a three-year term, but that could be accommodated. She also invited the Alumni Board to nominate two members to the College Advisory Board, the Immediate Past President and another, such as the President-Elect, giving more flexibility as to who is appointed. It was suggested that Board Advisory members should be appointed at the suggestion of the Alumni Association President, Board and Dean. Dean Casser indicated that the College Advisory Boards would be active, with regular conference calls and meetings at major professional conferences. An alumni currently sitting on the University Board will also sit on the College Advisory Boards, serving as a link between the two.

The Alumni Office will speak with Dr. Karen Wrigley, Immediate Past President, about serving on the College Advisory Board for two years, although one year of her Past Presidency has past. The Board will continue to discuss the matter of an additional nominee to the Advisory Board.
The bylaws state that proposed amendments be voted on at the Annual Meeting by two-thirds of the votes cast at any Annual Meeting, provided that the proposed amendment had been recommended by a previous Annual Meeting or by the Board of Directors of this Association, and that one copy of the proposed amendment had been received by the secretary of the Alumni Association not less then forty-five days before the Annual Meeting. Notice and written copy of the proposed changes are to be distributed to each member at least thirty days prior to the Annual Meeting at which time said amendment or changes is to be considered. It was proposed that the suggested changes be posted on the University website, with notice going out to alumni via the newsletter and an email notice.

Dr. Ochsenreither motioned to recommend these amendments to the bylaws at the next Annual Meeting, Dr. Freiss seconded and the motion was unanimously approved.
Dr. Savitski motioned to vote on the motion pending Dr. Wrigley’s approval, Dr, Ochsenreither seconded and the motion was unanimously approved.

Dr. Landry gave the Nominating Committee report for  Dr. Wrigley. One Alumnus has submitted his name for the Alumni Association Board 200 ballot: Gary S. Litman, OD, FAAO ’75, who wrote: “I feel that I can offer a great deal to the association through my experience and dedication to Optometry. I am a 1975 graduate, an Academy member, and have participated in organized Optometry for many years. I have held every position on a local level with the Bucks-Montgomery Optometric Society and presently hold the office of Treasurer and VCI Chairman.  I have served on a state level on the Clinical Affairs Committee. I am in private practice in Plymouth Meeting, PA and have run a very successful practice for over 30 years.”

None of the current Board Members are due to rotate off the board this year. There are 9 Directors up for election/re-election; the bylaws state that we may have a maximum of 15 Directors. [Please see attached.] There is still time for us to get their name on the ballot before it is voted on at the Annual Meeting on May 2nd, nominations may be submitted to Heather.
Dr. Oschenreither motioned to accept the slate of officers, Dr. Lyons seconded and the motion was unanimously approved.

Dr. Savitski gave the Reunion Committee report. The 2009 Alumni Reunion is scheduled for May 2nd and 3rd. Classes ending in 4 and 9 will be celebrating their 5-years reunions. All events will be held on the Elkins Park Campus. Saturday will see tours of the campus, lunch in the cafeteria and the Annual Meeting at 11:30 a.m. The evening celebration will be held in the Hafter Student Community Center, with a buffet dinner, open bar and casino style games. Dr. Monty Vickers, OD class of 1979 and the author of the "Chairside" column in the Review of Optometry, will be providing the live music with his Lost Cause Band. The theme this year is “Rolling Out the Red Carpet”. For the first time since 2002 there will be a continuing education program on Sunday, presented by Dean Casser and TEI residents.

Door prizes will be presented and are currently being solicited. Please contact Heather. The winners of the 2009 “I” Care Raffle will be announced at the evening party.

Optometry alumni receptions will be held at SECO in Atlanta on Friday, March 6th and at the American Optometric Association’s meeting in Washington, DC in June. We will have an audiology alumni reception at the American Academy of Audiology meeting in Dallas in April.

Dr. Freiss gave the Student Relations Committee report. In the past, the Student Relations Committee sponsored a welcome party for first year students during orientation and participated in programs in conjunction with the Bennett Center. Although the orientation party no longer takes place, Heather is working with Janice Mignogna in the Bennett Center on ways the Alumni Board can participate in her programs. Two programs have been suggested:

  1. Perspective from alumni about entering the field of optometry in a difficult economy. The idea being if various alumni were still in school right now, what would they be considering prior to graduation given the economy.
  2. Perspective from alumni regarding the many career choices in optometry, such as private practice, group, commercial, ophthalmology, VA, ophthalmic industry clinical and R&D, academic, etc. There are many career paths that people take with OD degrees that students may not realize while still in school. Perhaps at the proposed fall CE program, the Alumni Board can meet informally with students.

Heather has contacted three students who are interested in working with the Committee: two second year OD students and one first year OD student. A conference call will take place in the next few months to get their take on how the Alumni Association can best work with them.
With no old or new business to discuss, Dr. Landry adjourned the meeting at 12:05 p.m.