The College of Optometry at Western University of Health Sciences took a major step toward opening its doors in fall 2009.

The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education granted the College of Optometry with the pre-accreditation classification of “Preliminary Approval.” This serves as recognition that the college is on target in its planning and development, said Elizabeth Hoppe, OD, MPH, DrPH, founding dean of the College of Optometry.

“By attaining this status, we’re able to begin student recruitment and enrollment in the program,” she said. “University support has been there for the development of it.”

The college expects to enroll 70 students in its inaugural class in 2009, one of four new programs to join the WesternU family. The College of Dental Medicine, the College of Podiatric Medicine and the Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences are also expected to open by 2009.

The accreditation council will review the College of Optometry’s preliminary approval classification annually during the first three academic years of the program through written reports and/or site visits as deemed necessary by the council.

“The classification of ‘Preliminary Approval’ is granted to a professional optometric degree program that has clearly demonstrated it is developing in accordance with Council standards. The program has approval to begin student recruitment, selection and admissions, and to begin offering the program,” according to a letter from the American Optometric Association.

About Western University of Health Sciences

Western University of Health Sciences (www.westernu.edu), located in Pomona, Calif., is an independent nonprofit health professions university, conferring degrees in health sciences, nursing, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies and veterinary medicine. In 2009, the university will admit students to new degree programs in dentistry, optometry, podiatry and biomedical sciences.