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Winter 2023

Celebrating the Past and Future of ICO - Homecoming 2023


Nora Matland

Our campus events are back in full swing! This year we welcomed back the classes of 1948, 1953, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2013, and 2018. This year’s alumni were especially lucky with a beautiful September weekend and an impressive sunset from the brand new Sable Hotel on Saturday.

On Friday, we held a student/alumni mix-and-mingle. As always, the ICO community came out in full force, current and past students connected over cupcakes and specialty popcorn. Later that night, our annual raffle added an extra layer of fun. It’s always wonderful to see how eager the ICO community is to continue strengthening our profession through even simple conversations.

Saturday brought more festivities, starting with a special lunch honoring alumni who graduated 50 years ago. 

The main event took place at the Sable on Navy Pier, where eight alumni were recognized during the Alumni Association Awards Ceremony. The celebration continued with a class reunion dinner and quite the dance off by the end of the night.

Chicago welcomed them back with open arms. The weekend coincided with Taste of Chicago, and showcased all that Chicago has to offer. We’re sure more than a few alumni reconnected with some of their old haunts and fell a little more in love with this wonderful city.

We hope that this year's reception not only helped you reconnect with ICO but also one another. Alumni do so much for this institution so we’re always happy to welcome them back. Thanks so much to our alumni for being such a wonderful crowd!

Friday Night Mix and Mingle

Class Reunion Dinner

50-Year Club Lunch


ICO inducted four new members to the prestigious 50-Year Club; (L-R) David Rhoads, OD ’73, Dennis DeLee, OD ’73, Steven Levin, OD ’73, and Don Sipola, OD ’73

Alumni Awards Ceremony

2023 Alumni Association Award Recipients


Joseph Herba, OD ’88

Alumnus of the Year

Alumnus of the Year 

Joseph Herba, OD ’88, currently practices in Crystal Lake, IL. He has been an active provider for his community’s lions club. He has proven to be a significant Alumni Ambassador for the College. Mentoring and inspiring prospective students is vital to ICO’s future. Dr. Herba has mentored over 80 students helping them find their way into optometry. Most have attended ICO and some have even practiced with him.


Amanda Gerson, OD ’19

Young Alumnus of the Year

Young Alumnus of the Year 

After working as an associate at a private practice, operating a sublease, and working at a commercial office, Amanda Gerson, OD ’19 partnered with fellow colleague, Matthew Jones, OD ’08, to open her own practice in March of 2023. She is active in both her community and within her profession. Dr. Gerson has served as president for both the Southwestern Illinois and Midstate optometric societies. She has served on numerous committees within the IOA and is currently chair of both the membership and corporate OD committees and was recently selected to serve as a key person regional captain. In 2022, Dr. Gerson was selected as the IOA’s Young Optometrist of the year. 


Bobby Rush

Distinguished Friend Award

Distinguished Friend Award

Congressman Bobby Rush, a legendary figure in modern African American politics, exhibited extraordinary leadership long before his 1992 election to Illinois’ First Congressional District.

Rush made history when he formed the IL Chapter of the Black Panther Party. During this time, he formed the Free Medical Clinic in Chicago. He served as Alderman of the 2nd Ward from 1983-1992, until his election to the US House of Representatives.

Congressman Rush has been honored for his important efforts to advocate for enhancing and preserving quality eye care in the US, including assisting both optometry & ICO with legislative issues and funding. Rush was honored with the AOA Legislator Award in 2019, presented by Dr. Colip. 

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Dr. Roy Wesley and the 
Newton K. Wesley Foundation

Distinguished Friend Award

Distinguished Friend Award

Dr. Roy Wesley, an optometrist, PhD research scientist, and author, grew up working in the emerging contact lens industry of the 1950s in his father’s business, The Plastic Contact Lens Company, later Wesley Jessen (WJ), in Chicago. Roy received his Doctor of Optometry degree from New England College of Optometry, PhD from CUNY and then joined Wesley Jessen in the WJ Contact Lens Clinic. After the sale of WJ, he became president of the National Eye Research Foundation. He is the author of Invisible Vision, a memorial testament to his father’s contributions to the development of the modern day contact lens.

Most recently the Newton K. Wesley Foundation provided the lead gift funding for the Dr. Newton K. Wesley Clinical Research Center which will serve as a dedicated research space that will greatly expand our growing clinical research capabilities. 

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John Baker, OD

Excellence in Education Award

Excellence in Education Award 

John Baker, OD is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Binghamton University where he earned a BS degree in chemistry and earned his OD degree from Pennsylvania College of Optometry, where he was recognized for excellence in patient care. After graduation, he completed a residency in Primary Care/Ocular Disease at The Eye Institute of Pennsylvania College of Optometry before joining the faculty of the Illinois College of Optometry in the fall, 1985. He later completed a MSEd degree in Curriculum and Supervision from Northern Illinois University. 

During his time at ICO, he has served in a variety of teaching and administrative positions, most recently as the coordinator of the Clinical Methods and Procedures I course and the Clinical Assistant Program as well as Associate Dean for Education. In addition to his roles at the College, Dr. Baker is a senior consultant with the Accreditation Council of Optometric Education (ACOE) and a remote examiner for the National Board examination, Part III.


Humanitarian Award 

Jeffery Lewis, OD ’12. After graduation, he joined the All About Eyes team in Champaign, Illinois and in 2020 had the privilege to accept a new role as the Director of School Engagement for Keplr Vision. He serves as the East Central Society president for the Illinois Optometric Association and recently accepted a position on the American Optometric Association Contact Lens & Cornea Section Council. Dr. Lewis is a keynote speaker and Academic Consulting Expert for Bausch & Lomb. 

Jeffery Lewis, OD ’12

Humanitarian Award

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Professional Achievement Award 

Linda S. Rouse, OD ’92, M.B.A., FAAO, Dean of Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry, earned her undergraduate degree in 1988 from Stetson University, and her Doctor of Optometry at Illinois College of Optometry in 1992. A one-year residency in primary eye care and ocular disease with a fellowship in clinical education was completed at the Illinois College of Optometry/Illinois Eye Institute in 1993. A master’s degree in business and administration with a concentration in finance was attained in 2016 from Nova Southeastern University (NSU). Dr. Rouse began and continues to co-own a private optometric practice since 1994.

Linda Rouse, OD ’92

Professional Achievement Award

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Lifetime Service Award 

Robert Vodvarka, OD ’69 was born in Chicago, and attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park. He completed his undergraduate degree at Western Illinois University and graduated from ICO in 1969. He served as an optometry officer in the Air Force in San Antonio until 1972. He was awarded Young Optometrist of the Year in 1978 and Optometrist of the Year in 1986 from the Texas Optometric Association. He has held all the offices of the Texas Optometric Association including serving as president 1983-1984. 

Robert Vodvarka, OD ’69

Lifetime Service Award 

Crouch Family Alumni Hall Dedication

This past Homecoming, we held an especially exciting ceremony on Saturday afternoon when Brady Hall was renamed the "Crouch Family Alumni Hall" during a rededication celebration in recognition of Dr. Crouch’s latest gift to ICO.

Donovan Crouch, OD ’63 has generously supported ICO for many years and has never passed up an opportunity to be involved at his alma mater. Since 2000, he has served on ICO's Alumni Council and, since 2002, on ICO's Board of Trustees. He now holds Emeritus status in both, an honor bestowed upon only a select few. Throughout the years, Dr. Crouch and his family have been consistent and generous supporters of ICO's mission. "Lois, the family and I could not have the lifestyle that we enjoy today without our ICO education. This is a way to give back to the profession," said Dr. Crouch during the rededication ceremony.

Dr. Crouch isn’t the only optometrist in the family. There are his sons Craig Crouch, OD ’90, and Kevin Crouch, OD ’94, both ICO alumni, along with Dr. Kevin Crouch's wife, Ashley Crouch, OD ’94. His grandson, Dayne Crouch ’25, is currently in his third year at ICO, maintaining the family's commitment to ICO and optometry. 

In recognition of his profound impact and generous stewardship, during the ceremony ICO President Mark Colip, OD ’92, acknowledged Dr. Crouch's service, describing him as one of ICO's most generous supporters. Dr. Crouch's support led to the unanimous decision of ICO's Board of Trustees to rename the building as "Crouch Family Alumni Hall" during the rededication celebration.


L-R: daughter-in-law, Ashley Crouch, OD ’94, sons, Kevin Crouch, OD ’94 and 
Craig Crouch, OD ’90, Donovan Crouch, OD ’63 and grandson, Dayne Crouch ’25.

Thank You to Our Homecoming Sponsors
National Vision
Eyecare Partners
VSP Vision

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