Diversity Initiative

The many kinds of people who come to the IU School of Optometry have one thing in common: they’re the future of optometry

The Indiana University School of Optometry understands the value in training a diverse healthcare workforce. To accomplish this aim we are committed to recruiting the most qualified faculty and students who can fulfill our state’s and nation’s need for diversity in healthcare delivery. We seek students and faculty who will bring intellectual, cultural, and demographic diversity that embodies Indiana University’s commitment to being a globally relevant institution of higher learning. 

Through our mission of research and teaching excellence we embrace the foundational premise that the university is at its best when it serves as a dynamic meeting ground for a rich and varied array of people, ideas, and educational enterprises.  In concert with the Indiana University strategic plan, the school of optometry supports cross-unit collaborations that foster greater interdisciplinarity and engagement with university grand challenge.

Guiding Policies & Best Practices

Faculty search and screen committees will be balanced among tenure-track and clinical faculty, appropriate for the type of search, that includes women and minority members. 

Because optometry is a relatively small profession, job ads will be phrased to produce the widest net to capture applicants from a diverse background. 

The school of optometry encourages our faculty to cultivate underrepresented scholars who can apply for open positions. 

We also encourage recruitment of strategic diversity hires during times when active searches are not taking place, including sponsoring lecture series, visitor presentations, and other forums that actively seek the participation of underrepresented scholars.

Implementation & Accountability

Enhancing faculty and student diversity is an imperative of a 21st-century university school of optometry operating within the context of a nation undergoing seismic demographic, economic, and social changes.  The credibility of the institution and its ability to adapt to the world in which we live will hinge upon our capacity to be more representative of that world in a more equitable way.  

  • IUSO has created a Faculty Recruitment and Diversity Committee. This group meets regularly to discuss opportunities for enhancing faculty diversity through new hires, faculty retention, and school programs & policies that would make IUSO more attractive to underrepresented applicants. This committee is chaired by the Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
  • IUSO is creating an external Diversity Advisory Committee made up of prominent alumni and friends of the school who will provide strategic and tactical advice for enhanced recruitment of a diverse student body and faculty.
  • IUSO has applied for and will continue to apply for Federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) grants, either alone or in conjunction with other IU healthcare schools that fund pre-health school (pre-optometry) programs to better prepare URM (Under-Represented Minority) and 1st generation college students to compete for entry to professional school.
  • Our goal is 10% URM students and faculty. Below are past and current student demographics. The tenure-track faculty currently has 7% URM representation.
  • IUSO supports diverse array of student organizations including AOSA and NOSA and encourages them to bring a diverse set of speakers to campus and engage in diverse community events. These organizations are also the funnel to greater campus URM organizations providing a rich environment beyond optometry.
  • IUSO Clinics organize free eye exams during MLK Day for those who cannot afford it and for all the athletes of the annual Special Olympics held in Terre Haute.
  • IUSO Clinics coordinate free eye exams with the local Volunteers in Medicine group
  • IUSO is committed to helping increase the number of underrepresented minority O.D.’s in the optometry field and to help with the finiancial burden, IUSO has the Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship Program.
IU School of Optometry student seeing a patient

Student Demographics

Entering Year


Gender % Female/Male

Residents/ Non-residents

Underrepresented Minorities

Entering GPA

20147570% / 30%48% / 52%9%3.56
20158063% / 37%45% / 55%9%3.43
20168673% / 27%40% / 60%7%3.61
20177860% / 40%31% / 69%10%3.64
20187678% / 22%41% / 59%12.5%3.55
20198574% / 26%45% / 55%6%3.58
20208662% / 38%35% / 65%6%3.58

Underrepresented Student Recruiting Initiatives

High School Summer Program

Focus on Your Future High School Summer Program

Take the first step into the wonderful world of optometry in a fun and exciting way. Indiana University School of Optometry's Focus on Your Future high school summer program is a no cost, two night, three day camp designed to introduce high school juniors and seniors to one of the most rewarding careers in the healthcare field.

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College Summer Program

Eye U at Indiana University Summer College Program

Discover what it takes to become an Optometrist at the Eye U at Indiana University Summer College Program. Over the course of two nights and three days, you will learn about the optometry application process, take part in hands-on activities, and observe demonstrations by some of the optical world’s brightest researchers.

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Recent diversity accomplishments:

  • Provost funds ($200K) were garnered for Diversity Scholarships
  • This spurred scholarship endowments from two IUSO Alums: Jorge Benavente and Edwin Marshall
  • Provost funds were garnered to hire a second recruitment officer, so that more attention can be paid to diversity recruitment
  • On 6/20/2020, we hosted a “Diversity in Optometry” webinar with a current student, an alumnus, and retired faculty/VP of Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural affairs.
  • We have increased the number of URM students in our marketing database to ~1,500 students in hopes of further diversifying our applicant pool.
  • We are networking and visiting with students/advisors of HBCU’s (virtually during COVID, with plans for in-person afterward) to promote the field of Optometry and IUSO specifically.
  • IUSO provides up to $100K/year in additional diversity scholarships through tuition discounts
  • IUB strategic hiring funds were utilized to hire an URM tenure-track faculty in 2017
  • IUSO moved to a holistic OD professional program application process that is Admissions Test optional