Goodbye and Thank You by Ed Bennett

As this is my last EyeWire, I wanted to take the time to thank several individuals who have been very helpful, and that is our committee consisting of Nick Palisch, Erin Schaeffer, and Janice White.  I also want to thank everyone who came to our alumni reception at Optometry’s Meeting.  We had a large number of alumni, including many members of the Classes of 1999, 2009, and 2014, who were celebrating reunions during this time and this is the subject of a separate article.  I especially want to thank those individuals who stayed for the retirement ceremony. That was very meaningful to me and much appreciated.  The tribute/roast video and memory book are fantastic and very special.  I mainly made a note of a well-known local OD’s video segment in which he indicated that, in a world where practitioner prescribing habits have gone “soft,” Ed could be called the “Viagra” of the contact lens profession” . . . So I have that going for me, which is good.

I’m also very appreciative and proud of our alumni in general. There are many like me for whom optometry school was not easy (and possibly not easy to gain admission).  In many cases, these alumni have ultimately become our most competent and accomplished optometrists.

Of course, I’m leaving at a perfect time in the College’s history. We have excellent administrators complimented by exceptional students and staff.  We also have the most outstanding faculty in our nearly 40-year history.  With their recent performance on the NBEO examinations, I feel our students could compete with any school in the country.

There are a few select people I acknowledged at the ceremony, and I will acknowledge them again here.  Thirty-five years ago, I enlisted the help of a 3rd-year student in a clinical study; she then became my first resident. Over 60 clinical reviews, 33 published articles, and 5 books later I would have to say that I’ve been blessed to have her as my professional partner; even more so as my friend. The friendship and support that she continues to provide reminds me how fortunate I am to have Vinita Henry in my life.  My second resident wasn’t bad, either.  Thirty-two years ago, he was my resident; almost 20 years ago he became my Dean, and for 32 years he has been my friend and so I want to thank Larry Davis.  The Patient Care Center – which was commented on so favorably by many of the alumni who came to the reception – is part of the legacy of Dean Davis with a significant assist from Vinita Henry for her integral role in the architectural design as well as coordinating the day-to-day administration.  Also, for the Patient Care Center (PCC) to gain approval, it required support from the top, and Chancellor George played a significant role in the approval of our plan by the Board of Curators, and I was especially excited that he took time out of his schedule to speak at the retirement ceremony.

As I mentioned at the ceremony, as I say goodbye to a very significant and rewarding part of my life, I want to thank Vinita Henry and Larry Davis for supporting me and in particular, initiating the ceremony at OM. That evening marked the end of a memorable two-month period, which included many kindnesses and generosity provided to me by our students.  There are better instructors at UMSL, but I always tried to be a cheerleader for our students and for our program, which has been very easy to do in recent years. It’s been a privilege to teach UMSL students, and I predict that our program will continue to grow and flourish in the years ahead.