Medal Monday: Alden Norman Haffner, OD '52
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Medal Monday: Alden Norman Haffner, OD '52

President’s Medal Recipients

Dr. Haffner speaking at OrientationMany people have been part of the proud history of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) and Salus University.  Alumni, faculty, and friends of the College helped establish PCO as a pioneer and leader in the field of optometric education and the profession of optometry. The following people - highlighted on Medal Mondays - were honored on May 20, 1995 at the 75th Anniversary Gala Celebration for their outstanding contributions to the College and the field of optometry and vision care.

At the Centennial Gala Celebration on April 27, 2019, additional alumni, faculty, and friends will be honored.  

Alden Norman Haffner, OD ’52, PhD, DSc (Hon.) ’73, FAAO

Dr. Haffner profoundly affected optometry in not only the state of New York, but the United States as a whole. Dr. Haffner earned his Optometry degree from The Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) in 1952, and later earned his MPA and PhD from New York University (NYU).

In 1956, he helped establish the Optometric Center of New York City and was a leader in obtaining a charter for the establishment of the State College of Optometry under the auspices of the State University of New York (SUNY) in Manhattan. Dr. Haffner became the first dean and president of the College in 1971 and remained president for a decade. He was later appointed vice chancellor for Research, Graduate Studies and Professional Programs. In this position, he was responsible for all post-baccalaureate programs, professional programs and research activity of the State University of New York. Subsequently, a decade after his work as Vice Chancellor, Dr. Haffner returned to SUNY in 1988 and begun his second stretch as president of the University.

As an Army veteran, Dr. Haffner fought to resolve a number of public health issues during his career. In 1987, Dr. Haffner became an active member on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) top-level health care advisory panel, the VA Special Medical Advisory Group (SMAG). During his 25 years of service on this panel – the longest anyone has served on SMAG— Dr. Haffner helped to advance healthcare for veterans by improving access to eye care in the VA system.

Six members of the class of 1952

Class of 1952

Dr. Haffner was a diplomate in the Public Health Section of the American Academy of Optometry and he received both the PCO Alumnus of the Year Award in 1962, and the Distinguished Service Award of the Alumni Association in 1965. He served as president of the Public Health Association of New York City and received the association’s prestigious Haven Emerson Award in 1977. Furthermore, Dr. Haffner was the founding chair of the New York City’s Community Family Planning Council, an organization that improves access to quality health care services for low-income and uninsured residents. Dr. Haffner was awarded the Eminent Service Award from the American Academy of Optometry and was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame in 2000. A catalyst in the optometric profession, Dr. Haffner had nearly 200 scholarly publications during his career, mostly in the fields of public health, health care policy and optometric education.

Dr. Haffner retired in 2005 and passed away on June 22, 2016, at the age of 87 years old. He will forever be remembered as a national and international lecturer, author, and speaker on issues involving optometric education, inclusion of the profession in the health care delivery system, and ethics in optometry.