Tusculum expects to enroll first optometry class in 2020

Tusculum is anticipating enrolling the first students in the new optometry doctoral program in 2020, pending approval of all certifications and accreditations.

According to Dr. Andrew Buzzelli, executive vice president of the College of Health Sciences at Tusculum, he and other members of the Tusculum administration are already working on the process to institute a School of Optometry on the Greeneville campus.

Dr. Buzzelli, who joined Tusculum in early January, will lead the efforts to begin several new programs that are currently in the feasibility study stage and will fall under the new College of Health Sciences, including the School of Optometry, a Physician Assistant studies program, as well as Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy programs.

Tusculum will be seeking accreditation from the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, the national accrediting agency for optometry schools. Tusculum has applied for a “level change” with the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges, its regional accreditor, which would authorize the institution to award its first doctoral degree.

The School of Optometry and Physician Assistant programs represent the first phase of new health care degrees that will be added to the College of Health Sciences degree curricular offerings in the next two to three years, said Dr. Buzzelli.

“These initiatives are in the very early stages of seeking permission to proceed from the accrediting bodies of both professional organizations,” he said. Discussions are on-going and plans underway to complete an occupational therapy, audiology/speech therapy and physical therapy programs as part of the second phase.

“These exciting new programs further Tusculum’s commitment to serving the needs of our students, our region’s employers and population. In particular, we will provide care for the unserved and underserved citizens of Appalachia and rural America. The Tusculum community sees this civic development as a reflection of Tusculum’s growth and progress as a rising university.”

More information on the programs planned for the College of Health Sciences will be made available when the decisions of the accreditors to initiate the programs have been received.