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WesternU Appoints Dr. Elizabeth Hoppe As Founding Dean For College of Optometry

by Rodney Tanaka

January 10, 2007

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Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) has selected Elizabeth Hoppe, OD, MPH, DrPH, as Founding Dean for the College of Optometry, which the University anticipates opening in two years. The recommendation to add a College of Optometry emerged from WesternU’s strategic plan as a logical progression of expansion and is supported by the president and approved by the University’s Board of Trustees.

Dr. Hoppe comes to WesternU with several notable career accomplishments. She was the first woman chosen as editor of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry’s peer reviewed journal, Optometric Education, and she is the first woman in optometry to hold the DrPH, which -to date- is still only held by a small percentage of women.

"I am tremendously honored to have the opportunity to contribute to WesternU’s exciting plan for growth in the health professions," said Dr. Elizabeth Hoppe. "The new College of Optometry will incorporate an innovative curriculum emphasizing a strong commitment to partnership with the community. We will admit a talented student body that reflects the growing diversity of our nation and help them grow into excellent health care providers who actively contribute to the profession and their communities. Doctors of optometry who graduate from WesternU will be ready to practice to the fullest scope by applying the latest in technology and scientific advancements. With WesternU’s commitment to humanism in the health sciences, alumni will appreciate a team approach to health care and will be fully prepared to work with other health professionals to provide the best patient care."

"Dr. Hoppe has distinguished herself in the field of optometry," said Mr. Warren Lawless, chairman of the Board of Trustees. "She is an ideal choice for WesternU, given our commitment to academic excellence, innovation, and our vision for the College of Optometry to further distinguish our university and our comprehensive approach to health care and education."

Dr. Hoppe joined WesternU from the New England College of Optometry, where she was the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. Prior to her position there, she was a faculty member at Southern California College of Optometry from 1990 to 2003, achieving the rank of tenured Professor. She served in key capacities, including director of the outreach clinical programs, coordinator for the Public Health curriculum, and clinical preceptor in Primary Care and Low Vision. She also participated in pre-clinic didactics and laboratory instruction.

An active member of the American Public Health Association Vision Care Section, where she has held several elected positions, Dr. Hoppe is a member of the Diplomate Committee for the Public Health and Environmental Vision Section of the American Academy of Optometry. She has authored numerous peer reviewed manuscripts and two text book chapters. Aside from being the current editor of Optometric Education, she serves on the review board for the journals Optometry and Optometry and Vision Science, and is a grant reviewer for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Hoppe received her optometry degree from Ferris State University, followed by residency training in low vision rehabilitation at the Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center at the West Haven, Connecticut VA Medical Center. She earned a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Yale University and a Doctorate in Public Health from the University of Michigan.

"Western University of Health Sciences is a university comprised of educators, leaders and dynamic students," said Dr. Benjamin L. Cohen, executive vice president for Academic Affairs and chief operating officer for Western University of Health Sciences. "The caliber of Dr. Hoppe’s work and her commitment to education and health care parallel the University’s mission and we are very pleased to welcome her as Founding Dean for the College of Optometry."

Dr. Hoppe currently resides in Framingham, Massachusetts with her husband Jack Barton and their six-year-old son.

She is the final appointee of the three educators selected as founding deans for the three respective programs WesternU plans to open by 2009. These are the College of Dental Medicine, the College of Podiatric Medicine and the College of Optometry. The University has entered the initial planning phase of program development and will be applying for accreditation with the respective professional governing agencies for these programs and with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

"Upon opening the three new colleges, Western University of Health Sciences will be one of the most comprehensive academic health science centers in the nation," said Steven Wartman, MD, PhD, president of the Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC). "Bringing on three new founding deans of professional schools at one time is unprecedented in higher education. This is a bold action that is consistent with Western University’s historical development. WesternU is one of America’s leading universities admired for its vision innovation and education. The three new programs will reflect the core values of the University; the discipline of learning and the art of caring."

For information on the newly appointed deans, the University Strategic Plan or Western University of Health Sciences, please visit


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