As our winter quarter gets underway, it’s hard to believe how quickly time moves. We have welcomed the Class of 2025 and coated the Class of 2024 in person. We sent the Class of 2022 out on externships and oriented the Class of 2023 to a clinically intensive year in the IEI. The academic cycle is in full swing.

Along with many of you, I was hopeful that by this fall things would be back to normal. Rather, we are finding that adapting is our new normal. I am proud of how well our ICO community has adapted over these last months. We relied on the science and kept focused on our mission, and we’ve continued moving forward for our students and our patients.

What these last several months have shown is that we are a community that comes together to get things done. We remember why we do what we do every day. When obstacles arise, we collaborate to find new solutions.

The end of another calendar year is always a time for reflection and introspection. For ICO, we find ourselves in a unique moment of time. 2022 will usher in our 150th anniversary year. Over those years, ICO has been a part of optometry in the United States from the very beginning, and we are proud to call many of the pioneers in the field, our faculty, alumni and friends.

In this issue, we will focus on one such thought leader, Dr. Newton K. Wesley, OD, MD, SCD who is known as a pioneer in modern contact lens technology and early orthokeratology. From there, we will get a glimpse of where ICO is at today as we advance our research in cornea and contact lens with our own Dr. Jennifer Harthan, OD, FAAO, FSLS. Our rich history informs our innovations in the profession as we advance the thought leadership that has been part of the fabric of ICO from the start.

This 150th year will be a time of celebration and a time of reflection. Our history informs us, but we know that we also must be forward thinking and focused on how we can work together to continue to be leaders in optometric education and healthcare and innovators within the profession. From new technologies to new understandings and awareness of the richness of our diversity, we know our path forward is to keep our mission in sight and prepare to usher in a new century of service to our students, our patients and our community.

I hope to have the opportunity to see you at the various events that will unfold in this upcoming year. You are an important part of our ICO community and the advancement of our mission beyond our walls. My hope for you and your families is that as this year draws to a close, you find the time to reflect on the good things this past year has brought and be reenergized to begin a new year full of possibilities.


Mark K. Colip, OD ’92

"Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has been a major topic we have explored in-depth this year. One of the many strengths of ICO’s educational program has always been the diversity of our patients and the varied pathologies we see regularly that enhance our students' experience. Anyone observing ICO’s entering classes over the years has noticed an increase in the diversity of our student body. Recently, I heard an employee say, “at ICO, we celebrate our diversity every day.” In this column, I try to share with you various perspectives, from respected individuals, on the issues at hand. I hope you enjoy reading the perspectives of key ICO alumni on this important topic."

“The year 2020 is a symbolic and important time for optometry. As the profession looks toward the future, we see standards of care evolving for many eye conditions. In addition to glaucoma and myopia control, dry eye is  a priority for the Illinois College of Optometry in 2020 and beyond. As ICO’s dry eye experts, what innovations do you see being made in its diagnosis and treatment?

“With a history dating back to 1872, ICO’s alumni network spans generations. A significant number of our students first hear about ICO through an influential mentor or family member. How did you become a mentor, and what impact has the act of mentorship made on your life? Your alma mater? The profession? Has your attitude about mentorship changed over time?”

"Since the appointment of Dr. Yi Pang as Associate Dean for Research, ICO has significantly ramped up its research-based efforts. At any given time, ICO has multiple ongoing research projects. Current topics include myopia, dry eye, and other important concerns. Please highlight one of your current research projects, briefly explaining what it is, what we hope to learn, and how it will impact our students, patients, and alumni."