On Friday, May 11, 2018, the College of Optometry honored 39 young doctors at a beautiful graduation ceremony at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. Family and friends of the graduates filled the Touhill and witnessed a truly magnificent event.
Dean Larry Davis, Keynote Speaker Dr. Arol Augsburger, and Assistant Dean Ed Bennett
These young professionals were led to the stage by their Student Marshal, Dr. Samantha Holland (’18). Graduates had the opportunity to listen to one of the most prestigious leaders in the profession, Dr. Arol Augsburger, who presented the keynote address. Dr. Augsburger is currently retiring as president of the Illinois College of Optometry. He has the incredible dual distinction of being elected into the National Optometry Hall of Fame and receiving the “OD of the Year” award in three different states (Illinois, Ohio, and Alabama). Dean Larry Davis was especially pleased that Dr. Augsburger accepted his invitation to preside at our commencement ceremony: “Commencement serves as the culmination of all that we do as educators. We were honored that Arol chose to share his lessons for a successful life and career with the UMSL Class of 2018. Throughout his distinguished career, Arol has served as an important role model for numerous students and colleagues. His influence upon our profession has been deep and wide, and we congratulate him upon his much deserved retirement and extend best wishes for the future.”
The most significant award at commencement was, of course, the formal presentation of the Doctor of Optometry degree, conferred by Chancellor Thomas George. That said, approximately half of the Class of 2018 received individual awards (see separate article). The most honored graduate was Dr. Taylor Dahms Little, national student liaison to the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section. She received four awards, including arguably the most prestigious award: the Missouri Optometric Foundation Award for Excellence in Clinical Skills. In addition, Dr. Caitlyn Reynolds was the recipient of multiple awards for outstanding scholarship. Dr. Cole Bruscher, an active duty National Guardsman, was recognized for his diligent and unwavering service to the United States. Finally, 2018 Class Representative Dr. Andrew Ibisch, announced the 2017-18 Outstanding Optometric Educator Award recipient: Associate Clinical Professor, Dr. Tom Landgraf.