Former RSO Dean, Professor Earns Prestigious National Award

July 20, 2023

UIW Dean Name Fulbright Scholar

Timothy A. Wingert, OD, FAAO, retired dean and professor of the Rosenberg School of Optometry, has been selected to receive the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) - Essilor Award for Outstanding International Contributions to Optometry for 2023. Beyond his contributions to optometry in the United States, Dr. Wingert has been an ambassador for the profession in other countries and has worked with multiple groups to advance optometric care and education outside of North America.

The award is a testament to his international involvement, work that earned him four Fulbright Awards. To navigate the peer review process for a Fulbright Award once is something unusual, but to have done it repeatedly speaks to the quality of his work. Wingert has also been recognized with the Witela Medal by the Poznan University of Medical Sciences for his contributions to their program. Throughout his career, he has served as a visiting faculty member at multiple schools abroad and has worked with institutions in eleven countries, including the University of the Incarnate Word, to create agreements with programs that would be mutually beneficial. Through his leadership, faculty from schools in South and Central America have rotated through the Rosenberg School of Optometry and even more of his faculty have taught in foreign programs in the developing world.

Recognizing that his own students need to have an international awareness, Wingert instituted a study abroad program at UIW that is unique in optometry. The Rosenberg School of Optometry is the only U.S. school to offer a study abroad option to students in the Optometry professional program. Last year, thirty-five percent of the RSO class participated in this remarkable program. Nearly half of the two most recent RSO graduating classes have participated in an international mission trip to gain a broader perspective on health care delivery. Some of these trips have included partnerships with optometry programs in other countries, allowing the students from different cultures and backgrounds to work side by side and learn from each other.

Dr. Wingert has also been active in the World Council of Optometry and serves on the VOSH International Board of Directors. He served as co-chair of the Global Summit on Optometric Education established by ASCO, AAO and WCO. He has served as Chair of the ASCO International Optometric Education Committee. As chair of the Education Committee of VOSH International, his counsel has been invaluable in assisting fledgling optometry training programs in the developing world. While chair of the Academy’s Section on Public Health and Environmental Vision, he spearheaded the effort to recruit international candidates into the diplomate program. He is a founding member of the European Academy of Optometry and Optics and is one of only three Americans to achieve Fellow status in that organization.

Dr. Wingert has shown dedication to helping practitioners from other countries work toward achieving the level of care enjoyed by patients in the United States. He has worked to advance optometry globally through his endeavors. The award will be presented on Friday, October 13, during the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Optometry meeting in New Orleans.