Three Indiana University School of Optometry alumni were honored as the 2023 recipients of the school’s Foley House Awards during a reception and program in the Frangipani Room at the Indiana Memorial Union on Sept. 9.
“We couldn’t be prouder of our 2023 Foley House Award recipients,” said IU School of Optometry Associate Dean for Advancement and Professor Todd Peabody, OD’03.
Meet the 2023 Award Recipients
Melvin D. Shipp, BS’70, OD’72, received the Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes an IUSO alum who has spent significant time dedicated to excellence in optometry, has represented the school well throughout their career, and has reached pre-eminent status in the field of optometry.
Dr. Melvin Shipp’s journey in optometry is a tapestry woven with academic brilliance, military dedication, and influential leadership. Graduating from Indiana University School of Optometry in 1972, he embarked on a career that left a profound impact.
After his degree, Dr. Shipp served actively in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of Navy Captain (O-6) before retiring in 2001. He then transitioned to academia, becoming a cornerstone at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UABSO) as Assistant Dean for Clinical Services and Director of Clinics.
In a remarkable year-long sabbatical, he completed a prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship, highlighting his expertise in the field. His legislative contribution, the “Medigap Simplification Act of 1990,” stands as a testament to his dedication to older Americans’ healthcare.
Leading by example, Dr. Shipp championed diversity through programs like the “Improving Diversity in Optometry Camp” and expanded clinical outreach to underserved communities. As Dean of the College of Optometry at The Ohio State University, he tirelessly promoted the college’s mission, diversity, and global health partnerships.
His influence extended to federal bodies such as the CDC, Department of Veteran Affairs, and FDA, solidifying his status as a national expert. Within the optometry sphere, he held pivotal roles, including President of the APHA, showcasing his commitment to public health.
Dr. Shipp’s academic accomplishments include a Master of Public Health from Harvard University and a Doctor of Public Health from the University of Michigan. His legacy is an enduring ode to his contributions to optometry, unwavering commitment to public health, and exemplary leadership.
David J. Weigel, BS’80, OD’82, received the Foley House Basement Key Award for demonstrated exceptional dedication and service to the IU School of Optometry. Dr. Weigel is President of the Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH), Indiana chapter, a role he has held since 2016. His inaugural mission trip in 1984 took him to Honduras, and he has continued to contribute to over a dozen missions to that country. Often accompanied by his wife Linda, he has also been on three missions to Kenya. In recognition of their profound contributions, Dr. and Mrs. Weigel were honored with the VOSH-IN Humanitarians of the Year award in 2013. Dr. Weigel is a member of the Indiana Optometric Association, where he served as a Trustee. Notably, he has served as President of the Whitewater Valley Society. He has also supported the school over the years. He actively participated in the IUSO Dean’s Advisory Council during the early 2000s. His achievements and commitment to optometry in Indiana were celebrated with the Indiana Optometric Association’s Optometrist of the Year award in 2008.
Laura M. Suppa, OD’13, received the Foley House Early Career Award, which recognizes an individual for their contributions in the profession of optometry, notable community engagement, and positive impacts in their companies or organizations. Dr. Suppa joined Charleston Vision Source in July 2014 and purchased the practice in January 2023. Dr. Suppa is President-Elect and Legislative Chair of the West Virginia Association of Optometric Physicians. She also serves on the Federal Relations Committee for the American Optometric Association, is an active member of SECO, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. She is also a former President of the Junior League of Charleston and is an active volunteer in her community. In 2017, she was named West Virginia Young Optometrist of the Year. In 2022, she was honored at Optometry’s Meeting with its AOA Federal Advocacy Award.
The impact Dr. Melvin Shipp, Dr. David Weigel, and Dr. Laura Suppa have made in the profession of optometry is inspiring,” said IUSO Interim Dean Rowan Candy, MCOptom, PhD. “Their outstanding contributions and dedication have not only brought honor to our school but have also set a shining example for future generations of optometrists.”
About Indiana University School of Optometry
The Indiana University School of Optometry prepares its students for careers in optometry, the ophthalmic industry, and vision science through teaching, research, and service. The school is home to the most comprehensive and advanced eye health education, research, and patient care available with an emphasis on outreach to the most vulnerable populations. For more information on the IU School of Optometry, visit optometry.iu.edu.