Suresh Viswanathan, professor and chair of the Department of Biological and Vision Science and interim associate dean for optometric education at the SUNY College of Optometry, has been named dean of the IU School of Optometry, effective June 3, 2024, subject to approval by the IU Board of Trustees.
“With his collaborative spirit, focus on innovation, and track record of research excellence, Suresh Viswanathan is a natural fit to lead the Indiana University School of Optometry,” said IU President Pamela Whitten. “As he returns to IU, I have no doubt that he will continue to expand the IUSO’s national leadership in optometric education, clinical training and vision science research.”
Viswanathan succeeds Rowan Candy, who has served as interim dean since July 2023, when longtime dean Joe Bonanno returned to the faculty.
“Considering Suresh’s breadth of leadership experience, sophisticated understanding of the intricacies of the IU scholarly enterprise and dedication to research and teaching, I am confident that he will excel as dean,” IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Rahul Shrivastav said. “We are thrilled to bring him back to campus to build on IUSO’s strong legacy of protecting, advancing and promoting the vision, eye care and health of people worldwide.”
In 2013, Viswanathan assumed the position of chair of the SUNY College of Optometry Department of Biological and Vision Science, which delivers the bulk of the didactic coursework in their OD curriculum. After six years of developing programs, preparing budgets, coordinating strategic plan goals, reviewing curriculum and mentoring fellow faculty, he took on the additional responsibility as the college-wide director of institutional research and planning. In this capacity, he supports institutional decision-making and planning through data collection and analysis. As of June 2023, he also serves as the interim associate dean for optometric education, overseeing all aspects of training in the OD program.
Apart from his administrative role and teaching, Viswanathan actively leads a research lab with two ongoing projects on the visual impact of mild Traumatic Brain Injury, which have received funding support from the US Department of Defense and the National Eye Institute.
“I am honored to return to IU in my new role as the dean of IUSO and ready to hit the ground running in collaboration with the school’s exceptional faculty, staff and students,” said Viswanathan. “This feels like a particularly opportune moment of regional and University investment in innovation, and I cannot wait to help channel that energy in the realms of optometry and vision research.”
Viswanathan commenced his academic career in 2000 as an assistant professor at the IU School of Optometry teaching in the professional OD program and graduate program in Vision Science. He earned tenure and promotion to the rank of associate professor in 2006. Since then, Viswanathan has been inducted as a gold fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and elected to the Optometric Glaucoma Society. In 2022, he was inducted as part of the inaugural class into the American Academy of Optometry Hall of Fame.
Viswanathan began his professional career in 1990 as a staff optometrist in Sankara Nethralaya Eye Hospital in Chennai, India. Between 1991 and 2000, he served as a research assistant at Pacific University College of Optometry, obtaining a master’s degree in Clinical Optometry, and then as a research and teaching assistant at the University of Houston College of Optometry, where he earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Physiological Optics and Vision Science.
Established in the 1950s, IUSO operates the Atwater Eye Care Center in Bloomington and the Indianapolis Eye Care Center on IU’s Indianapolis campus, both serving their immediate areas and several outreach programs in southern Indiana and Indianapolis. The school’s professional, research, and graduate programs take advantage of the opportunities for interdisciplinary studies with other units in the University, including the Schools of Public Health, the Department of Ophthalmology of the School of Medicine, the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, and other basic science departments at IU Bloomington. IUSO offers the degrees of Doctor of Optometry, Bachelor of Science in Optometry, and master’s and PhD in Vision Science.