The University of Central Arkansas is studying the possibility of opening the state’s first school of optometry.
Tripp Umbach, a healthcare consulting group from Pennsylvania, has been hired to conduct the feasibility study that will provide a comprehensive analysis of the current and projected needs of optometrists in Arkansas and surrounding regions. The feasibility report began in March and is scheduled to be completed by May 31, 2015.
“Staying true to our mission of being a state leader in the health sciences, we are committed to exploring the possibility of providing a school of optometry,” said President Tom Courtway. “Hopefully, this study will help us arrive at making a sound and informed decision.”
The state of Arkansas currently has no optometry schools, and UCA is looking to fulfill that need. Nearby optometry schools are located in Memphis, Tenn., and Tahlequah, Okla. “The college has a wide variety of healthcare programs and this would broaden and expand our university’s offerings,” said Dean of the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences Dr. Jimmy Ishee.
“We graduate more healthcare professionals than any other university in Arkansas and we thought this would meet a need in Arkansas.”
The study will also include a detailed financial feasibility model for the construction, start up, and operation of the first four years. This endeavor is part of UCA’s ongoing review and evaluation of existing programs and degrees from each college as outlined in the “Framework for the Future”, a comprehensive strategy for UCA.