MSCHE Self Study April 2021

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Preparedfor:MiddleStatesCommission onHigherEducation VirtualSiteVisit




Table of Contents

Executive Summary


Standard I – Mission and Goals

Standard II – Ethics and Integrity

Standard III – Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experienc e

Standard IV ‐ Student Support Services

Standard V – Educational Effectiveness Assessment

Standard VI – Planning, Resources and Institutional Improvement

Standard VII – Governance, Leadership and Administration



Executive Summary

Overview Founded in 1971 and located in New York City, the State University of New York College of Optometry (SUNY, College of Optometry) is a leader in education, research, and patient care, offering the Doctor of Optometry degree as well as MS and PhD degrees in vision science. The College conducts a robust program of basic, translational and clinical research and has 65 affiliated clinical training sites as well as an on ‐ site, Article 28 Diagnostic and Treatment Center, the University Eye Center (UEC). The College of Optometry is one of the 64 campuses that constitute the State’s comprehensive public university system and is contained in a single 300,000 sq. ft., twenty ‐ floor facility (two below ground) located at 33 West 42 nd St. in midtown Manhattan. The College has a strong history of inclusive strategic planning whereby it reviews its mission, goals and objectives at least once every five years. Its strategic plan, which is published and easily accessible, reflects well ‐ established processes and a deep commitment to assessment and data ‐ driven decision ‐ making. Key performance indicators inform our decision ‐ making and are updated annually and published on the College’s website. Dr. Steven Schwartz, Professor of Biological and Vision Sciences (past director of institutional research and planning), and Dr. Suresh Viswanathan, chair of the Department of Biological and Vision Sciences and director of institutional research and planning, served as co ‐ chairs of the MSCHE Self ‐ Study Steering Committee. The Steering Committee was composed of members of the College’s Institutional Research and Planning Committee (IRPC), a standing committee consisting of faculty, staff and student representation appointed by the president. The IRPC, President’s Council, College Council and Faculty endorsed the Self ‐ Study. Intervening Events It is important to recognize that in the spring of 2020, even as much of the work on the Self ‐ Study was well underway, two events converged that significantly impacted the College. One, of course, was the COVID ‐ 19 pandemic, and the second was murder of George Floyd, which catalyzed a national conversation on social justice and evoked an important discussion of race and equity within the College itself. For the later, the president established and charged a President’s Task Force on Race and Equity, which issued its final report and recommendations on November 1, 2020. The issues of diversity, equity and inclusion are related to at least two of our institutional priorities and have been integrated into the self ‐ study. For the COVID ‐ 19 pandemic, we have included a “COVID ‐ 19 Impact” statement at the end of each standard, except for Standard VI: Planning, Resources and Institutional Improvement. Discussion of the pandemic is discussed throughout Standard VI as its impact on institutional resources is likely to last several years


Major Findings and Opportunities for Improvement and Innovation As the Self ‐ Study is organized using a traditional standards ‐ based approach, our major findings and opportunities for improvement identified in the self ‐ study are presented here in that manner. Standard I – Mission and Goals: The SUNY College of Optometry has a history of a strong commitment to inclusive, mission ‐ driven strategic planning and the integration of assessment at all levels of the institution. The College’s Mission and Goals are clear and realistic, and progress towards those goals is well documented. The College’s commitment to ongoing assessment is evidenced by the execution of its assessment plan, through the transparent publication of institutional metrics in its online Factbook and the analysis and utilization of these data for institutional improvement. Notably, the volume of data gathering and subsequent data analysis is challenging, and the process could benefit by the acquisition of technology that integrates the process into daily operations, provides more timely feedback and offers a public facing dashboard sharing key metrics. Standard II ‐ Ethics and Integrity: The College’s association with the State University of New York and State of New York mandates the establishment, implementation and regular review of policies that foster ethics, integrity and transparency. University and State oversight, as well as internal procedures and controls, make ethics, integrity and transparency a College priority. Through the Self ‐ Study process, there are two areas identified, which represents challenges for the Institution: affordability and diversity/inclusion. Affordability : While the College remains very competitive in terms of cost, the burden of the cost of education has increasingly shifted over the past decade from the State to the students. The College has increased its support through scholarships and grants to some degree, but the burden on the student remains high. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion : The College has made significant strides in attracting more unrepresented minority students with 17% of the 2020 incoming class composed of Black and Hispanic students. In June 2020, the president established Task Force on Race and Equity, which delivered its report at the beginning of November ( TFRE Report – Standard X). Two broad findings contained in the report include the need to: (a) adopt strategies that will create a more inclusive community and (b) increase the diversity of the on ‐ campus faculty, which currently has no African ‐ American faculty. Standard III – Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience : The College of Optometry’s highly regarded standing nationally is evidenced by the outstanding quality of its optometric student body, strong graduation rates and performance on national licensing examinations; a robust and well ‐ funded research program in basic, translational and clinical research (considering the College’s small size) that supports graduate programs in vision science; and its well ‐ established and extensive clinical residency program. The College’s faculty are sufficient in number and well qualified by training and experience.


The College has expanded its value ‐ added educational opportunities in its OD program through the past two strategic planning cycles, providing students with the ability to build an individualized educational experience beyond expected core competencies. These include dual degree options, certification programs, research training programs (T ‐ 35), micro ‐ credentials, elective courses, combined residency/graduate degree and co ‐ curricular opportunities through the Career Development Center. Recent expansion of the scope of optometric practice to include limited surgical procedures in several states nationwide provides an ongoing challenge, but the College continues to adjust its curriculum appropriately. Standard IV – Student Support Services: Through its recruitment efforts and admissions process, the College is successful at enrolling highly qualified and diverse students in all of its programs. The College continues to further develop and refine strategies to achieve its strategic goal of attracting the brightest, most motivated and diverse students with demonstrated leadership potential. Despite a dwindling national applicant pool, the College has successfully enrolled one of the most competitive classes in the country based on OAT scores and undergraduate GPA. The College has been quite successful in its efforts to increase the diversity of its students in recent years. That success, however, has created new challenges to ensure all students feel a sense of inclusion and belonging within the community. Student support services have expanded substantially since the last accreditation site visit, helping to ensure student personal needs are met and that the opportunity for student academic and clinical success is maximized. Examples include expanded academic counseling and learning support services, a clinical enhancement program, national board assistance program, increased mental health services, and food pantry access for students with food insecurity. Standard V – Educational Effectiveness Assessment: All the College’s educational programs have clearly stated curricular goals, which drive course learning objectives, and regularly monitor student performance with respect to these. Data from a variety of educational assessment tools, as described in the institution’s Assessment Plan , are analyzed and utilized to modify its professional and graduate curricula on a continuous basis. Examples of educational effective assessment to improve all programs are discussed in this standard. Although we believe assessment of our educational effectiveness is strong, it might be enhanced through additional and timelier data from graduates regarding their perceptions of the preparation received to practice to the full scope of their professional licenses. While the current OD Exit Survey and OD Alumni Survey provide valuable data in this regard, more comprehensive and timely data on practice patterns is desirable. We are exploring additional mechanisms, including revision of the exit and alumni surveys, as well as establishing a web ‐ based system to maintain contact with a representative sample of graduates to obtain these data.


Standard VI – Planning, Resources and Institutional Improvement: The College’s commitment to strategic planning and institutional improvement is linked strongly to the management and allocation of resources. The College has been well managed and is among the most financially strong within the State University System. Institutional fund ‐ balances ($19.04M beginning FY20) have been growing each year and in excess of the level expected by SUNY System Administration, allowing for the strategic investment in program development. With the onset of the pandemic, revenues dropped precipitously. The College has not received its full allocation of State taxpayer dollars from FY2020 and the depth of reduction in those funds for FY2021 have not been determined. The College has also experienced a decline in patient care revenues and in facilities use fees. Research revenue increased slightly. The College has modeled three scenarios and is currently is alignment with a middle or baseline projection. In each, the College is able to cover deficits out of its fund balances, but the decrease will be substantial. Spending has been strictly limited and a hiring freeze has been imposed to help counter the loss of revenue. At this time, overall impact of the pandemic and the size of the cut in State funding on the College’s resources is still unknown, but we believe we are in a good position to compensate for the deficit. We expect to have more concrete information prior to the MSCHE’s site visit in April. Navigating the financial environment during and after the pandemic is clearly one of the most immediate challenges to the College and its programs. Standard VII – Governance: The College of Optometry operates as an autonomous campus of the State University of New York, one of the nation’s largest university systems. Overall university direction is provided by the Board of Trustees, which appoints a chancellor to provide administrative leadership of the University. The College’s president reports to the chancellor, who is responsible for reviewing the incumbent’s performance. There is a stable and well ‐ defined administrative structure with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The administration actively seeks input from the College’s various constituencies, including students, faculty, staff and alumni. Framework for the Future Prior to the pandemic, the president initiated an important College ‐ wide conversation about its long ‐ term (20 years) future. Dubbed “Framework for the Future”, the project sought to answer the question: What is the best long ‐ term (20+ years) strategy for the SUNY College of Optometry to ensure both sustainability and an optimal educational and research environment from which to prepare future doctors of optometry? A great deal of work examining the College’s current programming, facility and external trends was completed and summarized in a report Framework for the Future: Phase 1 Draft , 20 February 2020. With the ensuing impact of the COVID ‐ 19 pandemic, work on the project has been suspended until the resumption more normal operations. While this report may have little


relevance to the current review, it does provide additional information on the institution’s resources and longer ‐ term challenges.


Institutional Summary The SUNY College of Optometry, founded in 1971, is dedicated to the education of optometrists, to the advancement of eye and vision care through research and graduate education, and to the care of communities through the provision of comprehensive visual health services. The College of Optometry is one of the 64 campuses that constitute the State’s comprehensive public university system. The campus is contained in a single 300,000 sq. ft., twenty ‐ floor facility (two below ground) located at 33 West 42 nd St. in midtown Manhattan. The College is a specialized, post ‐ baccalaureate, doctoral ‐ degree granting research institution with about 400 full ‐ time students (Fall 2020). Of these, approximately 95% are enrolled in the Doctor of Optometry professional degree program and 10% are pursuing graduate studies through either the PhD degree program in vision science or the combined OD/MS program. The professional degree program attracted over 426 applications for 98 seats for the class entering in fall, 2020. Average entrance examination scores (the Optometric Admissions Test) of the fall 2019 incoming class were the second highest in the nation (out of 23 schools and colleges of optometry), while the average entering G.P.A. was 3.60. Slightly over 50% of students are from New York State, with the remainder drawn from across the country. The College supports a vigorous research program aimed at translational applications in vision research and developing next generation evidence ‐ based practice in eye care with a 5 ‐ year average of $3.064M in extramural funding. The College’s graduate research program (PhD) is very competitive with an average acceptance rate of 18% over the past five years. Typically, the PhD program has a total enrollment of 14 ‐ 15 students while the OD/MS program has a total of 15 – 20 students in any given year. In support of its clinical education program, the College also provides vital vision care services to the New York City community with over 70,000 patient visits to its campus ‐ based University Eye Center (UEC) per year. The College is home to one of the largest optometric residency programs in the country, which includes unique training elements for clinician scientists including our residency graduate program. The College also maintains over 60 local, national and international clinical affiliations through which student, faculty and residents support an additional 175,000 patient visits. Central to the college’s system of affiliates is a contract ‐ based network with 17 health care organizations that extends the provision of eye care services to all five boroughs and tens of thousands of additional patients in the NYC area. The College of Optometry has an all ‐ funds annual operating budget of approximately $34.25 million (excluding benefits), with approximately 25.8% percent of revenues coming from state support. Twenty ‐ seven percent of revenues are derived from patient care, 34.4% from tuition


and fees, 12.8 % from grants, contracts and other sources. The College has consistently maintained a positive operating margin and held institutional fund ‐ balances (reserves) of over $18.25M at the end of FY 2018 and 19.04M in 2019. Institutional Priorities Addressed in Self ‐ Study On a five ‐ year cycle, the entire College community participates in a year ‐ long strategic planning process that incorporates faculty meetings and a faculty retreat and culminates in a published five ‐ year strategic plan that is informed by internal and external trends and guided by a core set of values. Organizational priorities and allocation of resources are driven by the mission, goals and objectives included in this plan. The most recent strategic planning process culminated in 2018 with a revised mission and nine goals and supporting objectives organized into 5 key themes ( Strategic Plan 2018 ‐ 23 ). Based on the College’s new mission and goals identified in its 2018 ‐ 2023 Strategic Plan and after discussion by the Self ‐ Study Steering Committee and President’s, Dean’s and Clinic Councils, the following institutional priorities (which are goals of the Strategic Plan 2018 ‐ 23) were identified and included in the self ‐ study design document that was accepted by MSCHE: 1. Enhance the student experience through programs that promote student and alumni success (Strategic Goal 1) 2. Deliver a dynamic curriculum that engages students and advances contemporary optometry (Strategic Goal 2) 3. Grow the graduate and research programs to increase the institutional impact on the advancement of knowledge and to produce leaders in vision research (basic, translational and clinical) (Strategic Goal 3) 4. Attract the brightest and most motivated students with demonstrated leadership potential (Strategic Goal 8) Self ‐ Study Approach We have utilized the more traditional standards ‐ based approach, which is consistent with how we organize our processes and data. This approach allow us to reflect on our institutional priorities as they relate to the commission’s standards. Details regarding the process utilized in the writing of the self ‐ study were provided in the Self ‐ Study Design Document previously submitted to the Commission and Chair. Organization of Self ‐ Study The remaining chapters of this self ‐ study are organized by the MSCHE standards, except for the conclusion, which is a free ‐ standing chapter. Items in the Evidence Inventory, which provides supporting documentation, are in underlined, bold ‐ green font to make them easily identifiable. These items, labeled with brief descriptive phrases, are listed alphabetically in the Evidence Inventory Library.


Standard I: Mission and Goals

Institutional Priorities The values, mission, goals and objectives included in the Strategic Plan 2018 ‐ 23 drive institutional priorities and allocation of resources. As part of the MSCHE self ‐ study design process, the College identified four institutional priorities to highlight in this self ‐ study. These four priorities come directly from the goals in the strategic plan. 1. Enhance the student experience through programs that promote student and alumni success (Strategic Goal 1) 2. Deliver a dynamic curriculum that engages students and advances contemporary optometry (Strategic Goal 2) 3. Grow the graduate and research programs to increase the institutional impact on the advancement of knowledge and to produce leaders in vision research (basic, translational and clinical) (Strategic Goal 3) 4. Attract the brightest and most motivated students with demonstrated leadership potential (Strategic Goal 8) Overview of Strategic Plan: Mission, Goals and Objectives The most recent review of the mission, goals and objectives occurred in 2017 ‐ 18 as part of the College ‐ wide strategic planning process undertaken every five years. (The strategic planning process is discussed later in this standard.) The College’s mission, which was revised at that time to be more concise and direct and published under “About” on the College’s webpage ( Mission and Values – PDF ), is as follows: The State University of New York College of Optometry advances visual health and patient care through leadership in education, research and service. The current Strategic Plan 2018 ‐ 23, Care, Lead, Advance, includes nine goals with objectives grouped into five key themes. These goals focus on student learning and support, research and scholarly activity, service and community. The themes and goals are listed below: Student ‐ Centered Experience 1. Enhance the student experience through programs that promote student and alumni success Academic Excellence 2. Deliver a dynamic curriculum that engages students and advances contemporary optometry


3. Grow the graduate and research programs to increase the institutional impact on the advancement of knowledge and to produce leaders in vision research (basic, translational and clinical)

Service to Our Patients and Community 4. Deliver unparalleled care to our University Eye Center Patients 5. Provide Service to the greater community

Community and People 6. Cultivate an institutional culture that encourages a sense of community, inclusion, institutional pride, collective purpose and shared responsibility 7. Promote the growth and development of all members of our community Effective Foundational Support 8. Attract the brightest and most motivated students with demonstrated leadership potential 9. Provide the financial foundation, administrative support and environment to achieve the College’s mission Links to the College’s current and recent prior strategic plans, which include mission, goals and objectives, are published on its website ( Strategic Plan Webpage ‐ PDF ). A diagrammatic representation of the 2018 ‐ 23 Strategic Plan is as follows:


Development of the Strategic Plan The State University of New York College of Optometry is strongly committed to the principle of strategic planning and assessment in the development of its institutional priorities and allocation of resources. A core set of values, informed by internal and external trends, guide development of the institution’s strategic plan. On a five ‐ year cycle, the entire College community participates in a year ‐ long strategic planning process that utilizes faculty meetings and a faculty retreat and culminates in a published five ‐ year strategic plan. The mission, goals and objectives included in this plan drive organizational priorities and allocation of resources. In fall 2016, as Creating a Legacy of Leadership , the College’s 2013 – 2018 strategic plan, was coming to a close, President Heath charged the Institutional Research and Planning Committee (IRPC) with coordinating the development of a new strategic plan. The IRPC is constituted of faculty and staff members and has student representation. This process commenced in spring 2017 with the Committee’s review of the strategic plans of comparable institutions, including schools and colleges of dentistry, medicine, optometry and pharmacy. Over the summer of 2017, a subcommittee comprised of members of IRPC and other faculty and staff members appointed by the president and director of institutional research and planning conducted an environmental scan and SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. An additional subcommittee reviewed and suggested modifications to the College’s mission and institutional values statements. After review and revision by the IRPC, vice presidents and president in fall 2017, these documents were adopted as foundational material for the development of the new strategic plan. As a first step in the development of institutional goals and objectives, IRPC asked the vice presidents of academic, clinical, student affairs, and administration and finance to work with members of their governing councils and others to draft goals and objectives that reflected the mission, institutional values statements, environmental scan and SWOT analysis. In addition, the vice presidents were asked to revise and update the outcome measures in the College’s assessment plan that would be used to track implementation. The director of institutional research and planning assisted as needed to ensure an appropriate uniformity of style and rigor. The draft goals and objectives were reviewed by IRPC over a series of meetings, with comments and suggestions for improvement and clarification made to the vice presidents. Each of the vice presidents was also provided with opportunities to comment on the goals and objectives of fellow vice presidents. A draft strategic plan constituted of the revised goals and objectives was subsequently distributed to the faculty in preparation for the College’s annual faculty retreat. The draft strategic plan was the primary discussion topic at the 2018 March 11 ‐ 12 annual faculty retreat at the IBM Learning Center in Armonk, NY. The retreat started with a presentation by members of IRPC that highlighted accomplishments under Creating a Legacy of Leadership . This was followed by an overview of the strategic planning process given by the director of


institutional research and planning. Next, there was a panel discussion lead by members of IRPC and the vice presidents of academic, clinical and student affairs that addressed questions related to the draft strategic plan. Subsequent to these sessions, the draft plan was discussed in break out groups and a plenary discussion. Members of IRPC helped to facilitate these discussions. Based on feedback received at the faculty retreat, the draft strategic plan was revised by the vice presidents and IRPC. Further feedback was solicited by distributing the revised draft to the faculty and staff for review and comment. The resultant Strategic Plan 2018 ‐ 23, which was subsequently endorsed by IRPC, President’s Council and College Council, is entitled Care, Lead, Advance . Additional details on the development of this plan, including the names of participants, environmental scan, SWOT analysis and timetable may be found in the Strategic Planning Process Document . Brief Overview of Use of the Strategic Plan for Planning and Assessment This section provides a brief overview of how the strategic plan is utilized for planning and assessment. Additional information on planning may be found under Standard VI. As described in the College’s Assessment Plan , institutional planning and assessment are ongoing and may be conceptualized as a cyclical process (see diagram below) that starts with the mission and establishment of strategic goals and objectives. Institutional key performance indicators, which are quantitative indicators of progress relative to the strategic plan, are tracked longitudinally; assembled by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning; published on the College’s website in Factbook ; and updated annually ( Institutional Research Webpage ‐ PDF and Factbook Webpage ‐ PDF ).

College vice presidents utilize key performance indicators and other data delineated in the Assessment Plan to analyze progress in their respective areas. They present these analyses, which


are published on the Institutional Research webpage, annually to the Institutional Research and Planning Committee (IRPC) and senior management team at Annual Implementation Meetings (AIMs) ( AIM Presentations ‐ Examples ). Members of IRPC and the senior management team are encouraged to provide constructive feedback to the presenting vice president. When analyses reveal shortcomings in attaining institutional goals, the appropriate administrative unit initiates corrective actions. 1 The vice presidents also meet annually with the president to assess progress on the strategic plan. These meetings result in the development of published Annual Institutional Goals that are derivative of the strategic plan, linked to specific goals in the plan, widely disseminated to the College community and posted on the Institutional Research webpage. The annual institutional goals are implemented through the College’s various administrative councils and area heads. Annual performance expectations for administrators are linked to goals in the College’s Strategic Plan ( Performance Program Form ). Conclusions: Strengths, Challenges and Opportunities The College has a strong history of inclusive strategic planning whereby it reviews its mission, goals and objectives at least once every five years. Its strategic plan, which is published and easily accessible, drives decision making through established processes. Implementation of the plan is monitored as detailed in the College’s Assessment Plan , which is updated during the strategic planning process. Key performance indicators inform decision ‐ making and are updated annually and published on the College’s website. While the College believes the planning and assessment mechanisms it has in place are effective, it recognizes the administrative burden associated with data collection, particularly for an institution of its size. Most data are annually updated by area heads. Opportunities may be available to adopt technology that integrates data collection into daily operations with the expectation of reducing the administrative burden associated with its collection and providing more timely feedback. COVID ‐ 19 Impact : There have been no changes in the College’s goals and missions related to the students served or service area. We continue to attract highly qualified students from New York, the metropolitan region and throughout the nation. While our commitment to the College’s goals and objectives remain the same, some strategies to achieve those have shifted to comply with social distancing requirements.

1 In lieu of the 2017 ‐ 18 AIMs, a review of progress of implementation of the 2013 ‐ 18 plan was undertaken at the March 2018 faculty retreat as part of the planning process for the 2018 ‐ 23 strategic plan.


Standard II: Ethics and Integrity

Linkage of Standard to Institutional Priorities Increasing student debt is a challenge faced by virtually all professional doctorate level programs. The College’s Strategic Plan 2018 ‐ 2023 includes the following goal, which is also a strategic priority for this self ‐ study:  Attract the brightest and most motivated students with demonstrated leadership potential This standard addresses the following published objective for the above goal:  Insure the affordability of the Doctor of Optometry degree program by o Maintaining competitive tuition and fees while keeping graduate debt below the national average for schools and colleges of optometry o Identifying and increasing scholarship opportunities for incoming and enrolled students Overview SUNY College of Optometry policies regarding governance, recruitment, appointments, benefits, grievance procedures, non ‐ discrimination, discipline and due process are subject to the State University of New York Board of Trustees Policies and negotiated agreement between the State of New York and the Union of University Professionals ( UUP Contract ) pursuant to Article 14 of the Civil Servant Law. These are complemented by College policies on promotion and tenure (page 35 of the Faculty Handbook ). Article 7 of the current UUP agreement addresses grievance policies for faculty and professional staff. All College faculty members (except visiting and adjunct) are voting members with faculty governance rights. All employees are subject to the State Public Officers Law Section 74 (Code of Ethics) that prohibits conflicts of interest. Administrative personnel and faculty members who earn over a designated amount per year or have fiscal responsibilities must complete an online State ethics disclosure form that would identify conflicts of interest. This program falls under the auspices of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) ( JCOPE Webpage ‐ PDF ). The College is subject to state audits and is required to submit annual reports documenting the implementation of many policies and procedures, such as the provision of education/training on domestic violence and public safety. Policies and procedures and the manner in which they are implemented are assessed periodically ( Periodic Assessment – Ethics ). Starting in 2019 and based on a review of its compliance training, the College includes ethics training as part of its on ‐ line Annual Compliance Training Program required of all employees. To complete the training, employees must answer questions on various topics, including ethics. Modifications are made to the training program as needed. All personnel conducting research must undergo Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) training and complete modules based of the nature of the research in which they are involved.


Pursuant to State University of New York policy, the College of Optometry is committed to fostering a diverse community of outstanding faculty, staff, and students, as well as ensuring equal educational opportunity, employment, and access to services, programs, and activities, without regard to an individual's race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, familial status, pregnancy, predisposing genetic characteristics, military status, domestic violence victim status, or criminal conviction. Employees, students, applicants or other members of the College community (including but not limited to vendors, visitors, and guests) may not be subjected to harassment that is prohibited by law or treated adversely or retaliated against based upon a protected characteristic. Applicable laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as Amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, and the New York State Human Rights Law. A Nondiscrimination Notice is posted on the College’s website. As part of its compliance activity, as well as its commitment to diversity in all its programs, the College has a Committee on Affirmative Action and Cultural Diversity that is composed of faculty, staff, students and the director of human resources (ex officio). The Committee addresses issues related to the promotion of cultural diversity and equal opportunity for all of the College’s constituencies and makes recommendations in this regard. The assistant vice president for human resources serves as the College’s affirmative action officer, and Dr. Guiherme Albieri, SUNY Optometry’s vice president for student affairs, serves as chief diversity officer. To support its efforts to support diversity, the College has with broad support developed a Diversity and Inclusion Master Plan 2016 ‐ 2020. The diversity and inclusion mission of the College is “To instill and celebrate diversity, inclusion, and equity in every aspect of the College’s operations.” This mission will be accomplished through the creation of a supportive learning and working environment built on understanding, acceptance, respect, and valuing the beliefs of other cultures, religions and identities. A Diversity Report submitted to SUNY System Administration in summer, 2018 summarizes the College’s efforts in this regard. Recruitment of minority faculty is one of the recommendations outlined in the report. In June 2020, against the backdrop of social unrest following the murder of George Floyd, President Heath established a Task Force on Race and Equity (TFRE) with the broad goal of establishing an ongoing and sustainable effort that ensures ours is a diverse, inclusive and dynamic community that is safe, honest and open, and through which differences are celebrated ( TRFE Charge ). The TFRE reported directly to the president, and its work will serve as foundation for a new Diversity and Inclusion Master Plan 2021 – 2025 ( TFRE Report ). ). A priority in the November 1, 2020 report of the TFRE was to create a position and hire a Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. A new Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging is beginning in this position March 1, 2021.


Per the Agreement between the State of New York and the Union of University Professionals ( UUP Contract ) , for the next 4 years issues of pay equity will be addressed by using one ‐ half of a discretionary salary pool to address equity issues of salary compression and inversion. Academic Freedom and Copyright Policy SUNY’s policy on academic freedom is found in page 20 of the Board of Trustees Policies . These issues are also addressed in the Agreement between the State of New York and the Union of University Professionals ( UUP Contract ). It is the policy of the University to maintain and encourage full freedom, within the law, of inquiry, teaching and research. In the exercise of this freedom faculty members may, without limitation, discuss their own subject in the classroom; they may not, however, claim as their right the privilege of discussing in their classroom controversial matter that has no relation to their subject. The principle of academic freedom shall be accompanied by a corresponding principle of responsibility. The College website includes a webpage devoted to Copyright Guidelines and Resources . The library director, who serves as the copyright officer, is available to discuss fair use of copyrighted materials. Copies of articles and other copyrighted materials that are required readings and made available within the course space in Moodle carry appropriate copyright designations. Only students enrolled in the course have access to these materials and only for the duration of the course. As a reminder and to emphasize copyright policies, signs and notes are posted in various locations in the library. Violations of copyright and other policies concerning intellectual property rights are considered as unethical behavior. The Judicial Committee would investigate a violation involving a student. Policies concerning patents, inventions and other intellectual property developed by faculty members can be found in the policies of the Research Foundation. The Technology Transfer Office of the Research Foundation is charged with assisting in the preparation of patent applications and monitoring patent payments. The operations manager for the Research Foundation at the campus is the College associate dean for graduate studies and research, who is responsible for assuring the campus is in compliance with the policies of the Research Foundation. Student Records All policies with regard to student records conform with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Specific policies intended to supplement the rights and assure the safeguards provided by FERPA and to clarify student records policy at the SUNY College of Optometry are posted on the College’s website ( FERPA Policies ). Further details can be found under Standard IV. Fiscal Accountability The College follows the State University of New York Policies and Procedures ( Policies and Procedures Webpage – PDF ). A Guide to Financial Procedures ( Financial Operations Webpage – PDF ) issued by the New York State Office of the Comptroller details the requirements of State


agencies relating to procurement, accounting, revenue, appropriations, internal control and general financial management. Further details may be found under Standard VI. Climate and Communication Open and candid communication between administration and the faculty, staff and students is a high priority. Email lists are utilized to communicate internally with faculty, staff and students. An important vehicle for communication is the College electronic newsletter FY EYE ( FY EYE ‐ Example ). This quarterly newsletter reinforces the College’s strategic priorities and progress with respect to these priorities while also informing the community of institutional and faculty/staff/student accomplishments and building a sense of community. Copies of FY EYE are archived on the College’s Web site. To keep the College community abreast of University and College developments, the president holds College meetings open to all faculty and staff three or four times per year. At these meetings, vice presidents and other administrators may report on their areas. The winter meeting is reserved for the president to make the State of the College Address to the community. These reports and the video of the most recent address are posted on the College’s website ( State of College Address ‐ Example ). On an annual basis, an Annual Report detailing the Colleges accomplishments and status is widely distributed to the College community and its constituents. Faculty meetings are held quarterly. During these meetings, the president and vice president for academic affairs, associate dean for research and graduate studies and department chairs provide updates on developments in their areas. Councils (e.g., President’s, Dean’s and Clinic Council) and various administrators provide timely updates throughout the year as appropriate. The College’s committee structure as described starting on page 21 in the Faculty Handbook facilitates communication amongst administration, faculty, staff and students. All appointed committees include faculty and staff and several include students. Certain of the elected faculty committees (e.g., Curriculum Committee and Committee on Educational Policy) also have student members. Elections for faculty committees are generally competitive, which is suggestive of the value that faculty members place in the usefulness of these committees. The faculty governance organization is actively engaged with the administration. The president and dean meet periodically with the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) and make themselves available as needed. Agenda items may be put forth by FEC or the president/dean. College administrators regularly and frequently meet with students and student officers. This is discussed in more detail in Standard VI. Publicly Available Information The College’s website contains comprehensive information on College policies and operations. Substantial amounts of data are publicly available on Factbook ( Factbook Webpage ‐ PDF ), a web ‐ based compendium of key indicators employed by the College to monitor the effectiveness of its programs. Student learning outcomes are published on Factbook , including the completion


and attrition rates for recent graduating classes and first ‐ time and ultimate licensing examination (NBEO) pass rates. Certain of these data are also available through the Student Consumer Information (Student Right to Know) webpage ( Student Consumer Information Webpage ‐ PDF ), which is accessible from the College’s homepage (under About ). The College is in compliance with relevant federal regulations as indicated in the Verification of Compliance with Accreditation ‐ Relevant Federal Regulations filed with MSCHE. Accreditation status with MSCHE and the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) are posted on the College’s webpage ( Accreditation Webpage – PDF ). Relevant program administrators regularly review all program publications, written policies, advertising and student recruitment material for accuracy and update them as needed. Published student recruitment materials include the Admissions Guide , College’s Fact Sheet and View Book . Policies of relevance to students are in in the Student Handbook and those relevant to faculty are in the Faculty Handbook . These documents and the policies included therein are reviewed and updated annually. Both are published on the College’s website. The annual OD Exit Survey asks students to rate their level agreement with the following statement: “I was given an accurate picture of the College during the admissions process” In the 2018, 2019 and 2020 surveys, 87%, 78% and 95%, respectively, agreed or strongly agreed with this statement. Services to Promote Affordability and Access On the days that prospective students are interviewed at SUNY Optometry, each applicant is provided with information on housing and financial aid programs, as well as the process for applying for federal financial aid ( Financial Aid and Housing Guide ). As part of this initial session, students receive information about student loan debt and learn how the budgeting choices they make now will influence the amount of debt they carry upon graduation. Students are counseled on the importance of setting up and keeping a budget. Students are also provided with general information regarding their rights and responsibilities as well as an introduction to debt management. Canadian and foreign students are notified of specific programs that apply to them. The financial aid office sends entering optometry students a Financial Aid Information Letter . Once the student is evaluated for aid, he/she is sent an award letter stating his/her financial aid eligibility, budget and program eligibility. Financial aid information is published on the College’s website ( Financial Aid Webpage ‐ PDF ). The Financial Aid Office gives two “tea chats” per year where students attend to discuss debt management. The Office also averages about 120 individual financial counseling sessions on budgeting and debt management per year. Prior to graduation, each student receives another training session known as the exit interview. This session is conducted at the website and is used to meet the federal government’s requirement for exit interview counseling. This site


is a free resource for career, college, financial aid, and money management information and is designed to help students and families understand their rights and responsibilities as borrowers and also achieve life ‐ long financial stability. The service provides budget and loan repayment calculators. Upon completion of this program, students are invited to meet with the director of financial aid for follow ‐ up counseling sessions. The SUNY College of Optometry offers a joint degree program as an alternative to the traditional route of entry into the professional OD program. Highly qualified undergraduate students from 25 affiliated colleges and universities work to complete both their undergraduate degrees as well as their doctor of optometry degrees within a seven ‐ year period—instead of the usual eight— thus saving one year of expenses. Standard IV provides more details. For the SUNY Class of 2020 the average debt across all students was $123,168 while the average debt for those students who took out loans was $164,802. (Figures refer to debt for optometry school only.) This compares favorably with an average national indebtedness of $169,298 for optometry students who took out loans in 2019 (most recent data available from Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry). SUNY State College of Optometry graduates have had a 0% federal default rate for the last 5 years, pointing to the effectiveness of its debt ‐ counseling program. Student Grievance Policy 2 Formal complaints that are not academic in nature are addressed in the SUNY College of Optometry’s Formal Complaint Procedure for Students , which is published in the Student Handbook . Additional policies address Discrimination and Sexual Harassment , Sexual Violence and Title IX . Records of Formal Complaints Records of formal complaints will be kept for a minimum of five years by the vice president for student affairs. For each formal complaint received, the following information will be logged and maintained as part of the College’s formal complaint log:  The date the formal complaint was submitted to the vice president for student affairs;  The nature of the formal complaint;  Copies of the acknowledgment and response (recorded by date) provided to the student from the appropriate College authority and the steps taken by the College to resolve the formal complaint;  The College’s final decision regarding the formal complaint, including any referral to outside agencies;  Any other external actions initiated by the student to resolve the formal complaint, if known to the College (such as a lawsuit, EEOC investigation, etc.)

A listing of student complaints and their resolution may be provided on site upon request.

2 As discussed earlier in this standard, negotiated agreements with the State include policies on faculty and staff grievances.


Conclusions: Strengths, Challenges and Opportunities The College’s association with the State University of New York and State of New York mandates the establishment, implementation and regular review of policies that foster ethics, integrity and transparency. University and State oversight, as well as internal procedures and controls, make ethics, integrity and transparency a College priority. While the College has a robust program to educate students regarding the cost of attendance, student debt is nonetheless a concern. Reductions in State support have necessitated tuition increases in recent years. Maintaining competitive tuition and fees and increasing scholarship opportunities are objectives in support of the College’s strategic goal and institutional priority of attracting the brightest and most motivated students with demonstrated leadership potential. Starting in 2019 ‐ 20, the College committed itself to limit annual increases in tuition to no more than 2%, and for the 2020/2021 AY, no tuition increase was assessed. During the 2020 ‐ 2021 AY, through a combination of Optometric Center of New York (OCNY ‐ the College’s affiliated foundation), the State, the College and the military, a total of $1,120,307 of support was provided to our students. This included $656,150 in scholarships and grants, $320,060 in tuition waivers and $144,097 in support from the military. The OCNY provided $324,025 of the total funding from the foundation’s endowment, private donors and foundations. Scholarships are awarded based on need and merit. International applicants to the four ‐ year doctor of optometry program are considered for the President’s Award for International Students (PAIS). Up to five entering students can be funded at $10,000 per year for four years. Through dissemination of these highly competitive awards, the College aims to alleviate costs for international student not eligible for in ‐ state tuition. COVID ‐ 19 Impact : There has been no significant impact on pre ‐ COVID policies and procedures related to ethics and integrity. That said, the pandemic itself has spawned a significant number of new regulations and guidance based upon critical public health concerns for which the College has a moral and ethical obligation to protect its students, employees and patients while fulfilling its obligations to provide education, research and patient care. Related documents are accessible on the College’s website ( COVID Webpage – PDF ). Due to fluctuations in the course of the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in communications with the community, with regular updates from the president and other members of the COVID Emergency Response Team.


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