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Fortenbacher Donation Benefits Ferris State's Michigan College of Optometry Building

The Ferris State University Michigan College of Optometry/Center for Collaborative Health Education has benefited from a financial gift made by Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D., a clinical professor with MCO, who has a private practice specializing in vision therapy in St. Joseph. The donation will support the Fortenbacher Center for Vision Therapy, located within the college’s eye learning center.

“It is very exciting for me to see the growth and expansion of the Michigan College of Optometry,” Fortenbacher said. “The new facility elevates the technology available for graduate education of optometry students.

“Improved education means more MCO graduates will practice within the state, and the citizens of Michigan will have higher quality eye care,” he added.

The financial contribution to the university’s new MCO building creates a win-win situation for everyone, MCO Dean Dr. Michael Cron said.

“Ferris State’s partnerships are important,” Cron added. “Through financial gifts such as the one provided by Dr. Fortenbacher, Ferris students are able to experience improved access to technology during the learning process, while experiencing first-hand the benefits technology plays in enhancing patient care.”

Fortenbacher was a member of MCO’s first graduating class in 1979. He remembers attending class in the campus’ West Building during the college’s inaugural weeks and eventually moving into its former space in Pennock Hall.

“I owe my education to the Michigan College of Optometry,” he said. “If I can help provide more options for students to expand their horizons in vision therapy to in turn provide more access for patients, then I am willing to give back.”

Ferris State broke ground on the new MCO building in 2009. The 87,000-square-foot facility will feature a ground-floor eye and vision care clinic offering clinical training for optometry interns and optometric/medical eye care to area residents; optical and contact lens dispensary where student interns receive practical hands-on training in the fitting of optical devices; a laser surgery room for staff ophthalmologists allowing student interns to gain experience on campus in the handling of pre- and post-operative care of patients undergoing eye surgery; classrooms, laboratories and faculty/administrative offices; distance-learning facilities; research laboratories; and an Optometric Center for Lifelong Learning and Competency for the continuing education of MCO/FSU graduates.

The modern health-care facility is located at the corner of State Street and Ferris Drive, next to the College of Allied Health Sciences, to create an educational synergy within the health sciences complex of Optometry, Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences at Ferris. The structure opened in January 2011.

Fortenbacher is a Board Certified Fellow of College of Optometrists in Vision Development and lectures extensively on developmental vision and vision therapy. He was an examiner for the International Examination and Certification Board of COVD from 1999 to 2004. He has served in several leadership positions for the profession on the state and national level. He was elected president of the COVD in 2007-08.