UCA to study opening the state’s first optometry school

CONWAY—The University of Central Arkansas will begin a feasibility study to assess the possibility of opening a new school of optometry on the campus.

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, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of developing a school of optometry at UCA.

“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 UCA President Tom Courtway. “Hopefully, this study will help us arrive at making a sound and informed decision.”

Tripp Umbach’s feasibility report will also include a detailed financial feasibility model for the construction, start up, and operation of the first four years. The study is scheduled to begin in March and be completed by May 31 at a cost of $30,000.

“There is currently no optometry school in the state of Arkansas,” said Dr. Steven Runge, executive vice president and provost. “We are a state institution, and we serve the citizens of Arkansas. So, if we can correct that deficit in a sustained way that will provide educational opportunities for Arkansas students and enhance the medical services for all Arkansans, then that is what we want to do.”

The feasibility study 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. This plan was introduced in November 2013.

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