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Pacifics Smith wins national optometry prize


Professor at Forest Grove school instrumental in starting vision clinic in Cornelius

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Dennis Smith, a Pacific University College of Optometry faculty member since 1991, talks with students. Smith has won the Michael G. Harris Family Award for Excellence in Optometric Education.The American Academy of Optometry has named Pacific University professor Dennis L. Smith a recipient of the 2012 Michael G. Harris Family Award for Excellence in Optometric Education.

Only one faculty member is chosen for the honor from among the 20 optometry colleges located in the United States and two in Canada, effectively making the recipient the national professor of the year for optometric education.

Smith was among 17 award honorees at the American Academy of Optometry's 90th annual meeting, held Oct. 24-27 in Phoenix, who were recognized for their contributions to advancing the profession.

A member of Pacific's College of Optometry faculty since 1991, Smith teaches courses in systemic disease, physical diagnosis and advanced case analysis. He has received numerous teaching honors while at Pacific, including the President's Award for Excellence in Professional Education this past spring.

He has also received the Didactic Faculty of the Year accolade (2004), Optometry Faculty Merit Award (1995), and the university's Junior Faculty Award (1993) as well as multiple teacher of the year designations.

He lectures extensively on the management of ocular and systemic diseases and has published a number of articles in peer-reviewed academic and medical journals.

"Dr. Smith is regarded as an excellent teacher by many of the students he has taught and mentored," college dean Jennifer Smythe said. "His enthusiasm and ability to take make difficult concepts understandable engages students in a way that keeps the learning process fresh and the curriculum relevant."

Smith is a retinal consultant for the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center's Diabetic Retinopathy telemedicine program. He was instrumental in developing a partnership between the university and Virginia Garcia many years ago that has blossomed into several clinical sites throughout Washington County, including the recent opening of VGMHC's Wellness Center in Cornelius.

Smith served as the first attending doctor for a Pacific vision clinic at Virginia Garcia and the the vision clinic's first director. He was later elected chairman of the Virginia Garcia board of directors.