Niswonger College of Optometry at Tusculum attains Stage 2 in accreditation process


Dr. Andrew Buzzelli, pictured above

Tusculum University has reached another significant milestone in the accreditation process for the innovative and comprehensive Niswonger College of Optometry.

The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education has designated the Niswonger College of Optometry as a “Stage-Two Applicant.” This stage is not a pre-accreditation or accreditation status, but rather a step towards potential accreditation.

The Niswonger College of Optometry is engaged in the process of developing the program to meet accreditation standards. Moving from Stage 1 to Stage 2 clears the way for a site visit this year from the ACOE.

“Reaching Stage 2 is significant in accomplishing our goal to address the prevalence of ocular disease in Central Appalachia,” said Dr. James Hurley, Tusculum’s president. “We thank the ACOE for recognizing the quality, breadth and depth of our program so we can continue moving forward with this much-needed college of optometry.”

When it receives preliminary approval of accreditation, Tusculum will have the 24th college of optometry in the nation and the fifth in the Southeast.

Achieving Stage 2 follows the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges’ recent classification of Tusculum as a Level V institution. Tusculum can now offer as many as three doctorates, the first of which will be in optometry.

“We have recruited the brightest minds in the optometry profession to develop our forward-thinking program,” said Dr. Andrew Buzzelli, the Niswonger College of Optometry’s founding dean and executive vice president of the university’s College of Health Sciences. “It will benefit Central Appalachia, particularly the more rural pockets where eye care is crucial.”

Dr. Buzzelli said Tusculum’s hiring of faculty members, the installation of equipment and the opening of clinics will position Tusculum to succeed during the site visit. This progress excites Dr. Greg Nelson, chairman of Tusculum’s Board of Trustees.

“Our board envisions a tremendous positive impact on eye care, Tusculum’s growth and economic development in the region,” he said. “Our optometry team has worked hard to create an exceptional program, and we are ready to advance this initiative to the finish line.”

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