Oklahoma College of Optometry History

The first session of the 34th Oklahoma Legislature referred a request for an interim study to determine the need and feasibility of establishing a school or college of optometry at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah to the Legislative Council. The Executive Committee of the Legislative Council in December 1973 requested the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education undertake a study of the subject so that the results could be presented at the second session of the 34th Legislature.

The regents published the results of their study, “Optometrists for Oklahoma: A Study of Supply and Demand to 1990,” in May 1974. The study showed Oklahoma needed to increase the number of optometrists either through establishing a school of optometry or increasing the number of contracts with out-of-state optometry schools. In the study, the regents noted individuals with impaired or deficient vision were handicapped in an increasing visual world, and it was therefore critical that Oklahoma have access to adequate primary visual care through the provision of adequate numbers of optometrists to serve all the state’s citizens.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education authorized Northeastern to begin a program in optometric education for the Fall Semester of 1979, and gave formal approval to Northeastern to implement a full four-year professional program in optometry during the July 29, 1981 meeting.