UIW Optometry Professor Receives Witelo Medal in Gold for Work in Advancing Polish Optometry

February 2, 2024

UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry (RSO) professor, Dr. Joseph Pizzimenti, and retired professor and dean of RSO, Dr. Timothy Wingert were recently honored by the Poznan University of Medical Sciences (PUMS) in Poland with the Witelo Medal in Gold. The award was named for Polish scientist and philosopher Witelo of Silesia, who did original work in the physics of light refraction and is considered by many to be the father of Polish Optometry. The medal was presented to the pair in recognition of their contributions to improving and advancing Polish optometry and Polish optometric education.

The professors had previously received the Witelo Medal in Bronze, but after almost 20 years of working with PUMS and the Polish Optometric Society, the award committee decided that a promotion to a Medal in Gold was in order to recognize their level of commitment.

Dr. Joseph PizzimentiDr. Pizzimenti’s efforts initially began in 2006 when he was awarded a 6-month fellowship by the World Council of Optometry. He was assigned to provide optic education in Central Europe, primarily in Poland and the Czech Republic. During his time in Poland, he was able to teach students and practicing optometrists, as well as evaluate the optic curriculum to consider revisions and expansions.

Dr. Wingert also had the privilege of teaching students in Poland and collaborating with the chair of the University’s optometry department, which led to him presenting at the World Council of Optometry and the American Academy of Optometry.

The presentation of the medal was part of the school’s “Optometry in the 21st Century Congress” event, for which both Drs served as keynote speakers. The pair was honored in front of a crowd of over 300 attending optometrists and ophthalmologists. “It was a tremendous honor to be selected as a keynote speaker,” expressed Dr. Pizzimenti. “More importantly, it has been so gratifying to see the development of optometry in Poland as a recognized profession as well as a scientific discipline. To have played a small part in that has been a highlight of my career.”

“A career in optometry involves improving the quality of people's lives,” shared Dr. Wingert. “What I have enjoyed as an optometrist is the myriad of ways in which that can be done, whether it is through direct patient care, working to educate students, working with other faculty to improve the scientific basis of what we do, or the collaborations with other optometrists on improving access to care for the public.”

Dr. Timothy WingertAs current and former educators at RSO, Pizzimenti and Wingert hope to see and instill that same desire to serve others in the future generations of optic health care providers. During his time as dean, Dr. Wingert noted that the RSO community helped support optometry students and broaden their horizons through resources such as providing an excellent clinical and educational environment, a curriculum that was up to date with the latest advancement, and study abroad opportunities. Dr. Pizzimenti is just one of the many remarkable RSO members that help to bring about these opportunities.

Dr. Timothy Wingert with speakerDr. Wingert expressed that he believes that part of being a health care professional is having the responsibility of leaving the profession in a better place at the end of your career than it was when one first began. Dr. Pizzimenti, the RSO program, and current and future students will continue the legacy of helping to improve the optometry field one person at a time.