News Story

NSUOCO Dedicates Dr. Hank Van Veen Dispensary

Dr. Hank Van Veen and Dr. George Foster
Dr. Hank Van Veen and Dr. George Foster, dean of NSUOCO at the dedication of the new dispensary.

TAHLEQUAH – The Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry recently held a special dedication of the Dr. Hank Van Veen Dispensary in the Optometry Clinic.

Dr. Van Veen has continually contributed to reputation of this school,” said Dr. George Foster, dean of NSUOCO. “His work has helped NSUOCO become recognized not only in the state of Oklahoma, but across the nation.

Colleagues, university administrators, students and former students gathered to celebrate the achievements of Van Veen, who raised over $250,000 in funding to pay for remodeling of the clinic. The new dispensary was the culmination of a refurbishment of the NSUOCO clinical wing.

Van Veen was the first faculty member hired for the new College of Optometry at NSU in 1979. As the first clinical director, he spent countless hours in the development of the optometry program with then-NSUOCO Dean Chester Pheiffer.

Van Veen guided the development of a contact lens program, low vision therapy clinic, two pathology clinics and a dispensary, in addition to the primary care clinic. Since joining NSUOCO, Van Veen has educated more than 550 optometric physicians.

The groundwork for NSUOCO was laid in 1973, when the Executive Committee of the Legislative Council requested the Oklahoma State Regents For Higher Education undertake a study to determine the need and feasibility of establishing a college of optometry in Oklahoma. In May 1974, the Regents published a report detailing the need to increase the number of optometrists in the state, either through establishing a new school of optometry or though increasing the number of contracts with other state optometry schools.

The Regents decided that the first two years of the four-year professional program should be provided at Northeastern State University and provided funds for the initial planning. Cherokee Nation Chief Ross Swimmer, NSU Dean of Science and Health Professions and Dr. Chester Phieffer,

Originally housed in Wyly Hall, a converted dormitory, the Optometry College moved to its current location, the old W.W. Hastings Indian Health Service Hospital, in 1990 through an agreement between NSU, the City of Tahlequah and Indian Health Services. Dr. Les Walls was serving as Dean when the college made the transition to its current facilities.

The College has its faculty and administrative offices, laboratories, and lecture rooms located in the building. An extensive expansion to the facility provided two lecture rooms and an auditorium and was completed in the fall of 1999.

The Optometry Building clinics contain, in total, 19 examination rooms and 5 rooms for specialty testing and procedures. These include Contact Lens, Imaging, Low Vision, Electro-Diagnostics, Vision Therapy, Specialty Care, Surgery Clinics, Practice Plan, and Acute Care by referral from the on-campus Health Clinic. The Optometry Building also houses a student lounge, biomedical media workroom, and offices for residents and adjunct faculty, SITE (the students’ book buying service), and student computer lab.

NSU optometry students experience over 40,000 patient encounters every year. NSUOCO is Oklahoma’s only college of optometry and one of 17 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.


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