Pikeville, Ky. – A first for the state, the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Optometry (KYCO) has entered a new phase and will begin recruiting its inaugural class for the fall of 2016.
The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) voted to grant the Kentucky College of Optometry the pre-accreditation classification of “Preliminary Approval.” The notification was received Nov. 13 in a letter from ACOE Chairman J. Bart Campbell, O.D.
“The classification of ‘Preliminary Approval’ is granted to a professional optometric degree program that has clearly demonstrated it is developing in accordance with council standards,” wrote Campbell. “The program has approval to begin student recruitment, selection and admissions, and to begin offering the program.”
An ACOE evaluation team visited the university Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2015. As part of the process, the ACOE will review the preliminary approval classification annually during the first three academic years of the program, including progress reports and/or site visits. A request for final accreditation status will be made by the university not less than 12 months prior to graduation of the program’s first class.
Sixty students will be admitted per class for a total of 240. With no other colleges of optometry in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia, KYCO will be the most accessible college of optometry in the Southeastern portion of the country.
“We are the first school to receive such recognition under the new, more stringent accreditation standards, and in a record time of one year and three months from the time we initiated our self-study,” said Founding Dean, Andrew Buzzelli, O.D., M.S. “It is because of the profusely talented UPIKE employees that we will be working toward complying with all of the standards for final accreditation, which will be considered after graduation of our first class.”
In 2014, the university announced the Kentucky College of Optometry, the next step in transforming the culture and health care of the region through access and education. A continuation of the university’s strategic focus on health sciences, the college of osteopathic medicine, the school of nursing and the college of optometry will serve as an integrated health care model for rural medicine.