SUNY Optometry Honors Essilor’s Sagnieres and Columbia’s Hood

NEW YORK—SUNY Optometry held its 45th commencement ceremony last month. Students, parents, friends, the Optometric Foundation of New York board and other guests gathered at the Roosevelt Hotel to witness the College grant the OD, PhD and MS in vision science and advanced certificate in optometry business management.

SUNY Optometry president David A. Heath, OD, noted that the opportunities within optometry and vision science are numerous and the Class of 2019 has been well prepared for professional success and personal satisfaction. “The College’s new five-year strategic plan addresses the student-centered experience as a core institutional value. Your class is representative of this dynamic, high standard,” he said.

Class of 2019 president Dr. Jason Grygier joked that he and his classmates were merely one year from being the momentous class of “20/20 vision.” He quipped, “’When did you become an optometrist?’ ‘2020. #Fate,’” he offered to applause and laughter, adding, “In the end, any optometrist knows that 20/19 vision is slightly better than 20/20.”

Hubert Sagnieres, chairman of the Essilor Group and executive vice chairman of EssilorLuxottica, and Dr. Donald Hood, professor of psychology and professor of ophthalmic science at Columbia University, both received honorary degrees during the ceremony. The SUNY Board of Trustees votes and grants approval for all honorary degree recipients.

“It is an honor to recognize these extraordinary gentlemen for their respective humanitarian and scientific efforts to advance quality eye and vision care for all,” president Heath said.

Sagnieres offered the commencement address and received the honorary doctorate of humane letters for his commitment to improving lives by improving sight throughout the world and his leadership in corporate philanthropy and strategic giving. He has been the driving force behind Essilor’s ambitious goal to eradicate poor vision across the globe by 2050, including the launch of the Essilor Vision Foundation, Vision Impact Institute, Vision for Life social fund, Eye Mitra in India and Vision Ambassador in China and other countries.

“Thirty years ago, I embarked on a journey that started as a business opportunity, but later led me to a passion for changing the way the world sees,” Sagnieres said while inviting the Class of 2019 to join him on the path to impact global vision. “When we remembered that our business exists only to serve society, everything became clear for all of us. Suddenly, we knew our own ‘why.’”

Dr. Hood received the honorary doctorate of science for five decades of research addressing the behavior, physiology and anatomy of the human visual system. His more than 300 publications have concerned the basic neuroscience of vision and diseases of the retina and optic nerve. He has had continuous grant support from the National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute for more than 45 years.

“You are on the front line. It’s never been more important to be an optometrist,” Dr. Hood said.

Dr. Kenneth Ciuffreda, distinguished teaching professor of biological and vision sciences, and Dr. Philip B. Kruger, professor emeritus of biological and vision sciences, both received the Presidential Medallion.