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President’s perspective


By Kevin L. Alexander, OD, PhD

The 2015-16 fiscal year was remarkable in the history of our institution. Like the founding of SCCO in 1904, or the move to Fullerton in 1973, 2015-16 marks a signal change in the nature and future of the institution. During the year, Ketchum University acquired a third campus in Anaheim to create a model eye care center and multidisciplinary clinic, welcomed the second class of PA students, prepared the College of Pharmacy to begin classes in August 2016 and received the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the institution.


The creation of Ketchum University in 2013 necessitated more space for programs as we looked to add to our flagship optometry program. Following many months of looking for the right property, an 80,000 square foot building was found in Anaheim. The building was purchased in February 2015 for $10.3 million and renovations began in October 2015. The total cost for the renovation, including equipment, ran approximately $14.1 million. We moved our Fullerton clinic to Anaheim in May 2016 and opened for business.

The state-of-the-art University Eye Center is only part of what is going on at Ketchum Health. By 2018, we expect to complete our medical clinic and dispensing pharmacy as clinical training components for the School of PA Studies and College of Pharmacy. Once operational, all MBKU students will be able to experience an interprofessional approach to care in a guided learning environment. For example, a diabetic patient may see a PA student for medical diabetic care, an optometry student for their diabetic eye exam and a pharmacy student for medication reconciliation and advice. All three practitioners will have the opportunity to conference together about their patient in one of many team conference rooms. The idea is to provide appropriate interprofessional training in a proctored learning environment, so that when students graduate and are expected to provide coordinated care; they will have experienced team-based care during their training.


The 2015-16 fiscal year saw growth in all MBKU academic programs — students from new disciplines joined the campus and state-of-the-art technology was implemented bringing new approaches to health care learning.


With the excitement of the opening of Ketchum Health, SCCO is leading the way in interprofessional health care education (IPE) for optometry. In February 2016, SCCO hosted the first symposium on IPE sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, where optometric educators from across the country converged on SCCO to explore how team-based training can become part of the optometric curriculum.

Through a gift from the estate of Los Angeles College of Optometry alumnus, Dr. Joseph Taylor, ’49, SCCO acquired VR Magic Indirect and Direct Ophthalmoscopy training equipment. This virtual reality technology permits optometry students to hone their ophthalmoscopy skills on realistic virtual patients so they are well prepared for clinic rotations. This virtual reality instrumentation can also be used to help train PAs as they learn to evaluate the eye with the direct ophthalmoscope as part of a physical examination.

SCCO’s international program expanded during the academic year with achieving WASC accreditation for our joint master’s degree program with Eulji University in South Korea, and we continue to develop our program with the Tokyo Optometric College.

The highlight of the year was marked by SCCO’s 112th commencement ceremony where 96 Doctor of Optometry degrees were awarded along with 47 residency certificates and five master’s degrees in vision science. Retired Rear Admiral, Dr. Michael Mittelman, now President of Salus University, was recognized with an honorary degree for his contributions to the advancement of military optometry. The occasion also marked the retirements of Drs. Lorraine Voorhees, Morris Berman and Kenneth Brookman who were awarded emeriti status in recognition of their many years of service to SCCO.


The PA program is off to a very good start. The first class of PA students began their clinical rotations in 2015-16, while the second class was admitted and began their didactic studies in the fall of 2015.

An exciting new development for SPAS and the university is the addition of two Anatomage Tables for anatomy instruction. An Anatomage Table is a large touch screen that affords students the opportunity to perform virtual dissections of life size scans of actual adult male and female cadavers. Each screen comes with a library of more than 100 pathologies that can be called up for instruction. We anticipate that all programs will be able to make use of this impressive, virtual technology.

As the 2015-16 fiscal year came to a close, SPAS prepared for their first commencement that was held in November 2016 where 27 new PAs received their degrees and PA certificates. Alfred Sadler Jr., MD was the keynote speaker and received an honorary degree in recognition of his pioneering work to establish the PA profession.


The big news for pharmacy is that after two years of preparation, the COP had its first visit by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) in April 2016. In June, the ACPE formally granted the MBKU College of Pharmacy “Precandidate Status” which permits the college to accept students. Following successful student recruiting in early 2016, the college accepted its first class and 43 students began their professional journey in August 2016.  Meanwhile, Dean Fisher and his team have been recruiting additional faculty and expanding the network for external clinical pharmacy experiences for their students. The unique curriculum and innovative approach to content delivery utilized by the COP has proven attractive to potential students and faculty alike; and we look forward to accepting the second class of pharmacy students, who will begin studies in August 2017.


MBKU enjoyed one of the best years for fundraising in the history of the institution. We offer our thanks to all the individuals, foundations and corporations who came forward to support our mission and our students in 2015-16. I am particularly pleased to report to you that in early 2016, MBKU received a $2.7 million dollar gift from the estate of Dr. Warren Harvard Low, ’52. This represents the largest gift ever received by our institution, and I am happy to announce that the student facility on the Fullerton campus has been named in honor of Dr. & Mrs. Low.


While 2015-16 was a very successful year for the university, even more exciting changes are on the horizon.

As we look ahead, we are focused on completing renovations on the former clinic building at the Fullerton campus. Once completed in the summer of 2017, the renovated facility will house both the PA and pharmacy programs. We anticipate all three programs will be able to use this didactic facility where advanced technology such as a computerized “Sim-Man” patient simulator will enable students to learn together in an interprofessional environment.

As for “what’s next?” the Ketchum University community will begin strategic planning to address where the institution is heading by 2020 and beyond. What programs make sense to join our campus? What services should we provide at Ketchum Health that will be helpful to the community and expand the team-based care and training opportunities for our students? I close by thanking all the alumni, faculty, staff, the MBKU Board of Trustees and university friends for supporting the vision to create a truly unique institution that has already established itself as a national leader in interprofessional health care education.