Waterloo's optometry school recognizes major gift from top donors
WATERLOO - The University of Waterloo school of optometry, Canada's only English-speaking optometric training institution, will dedicate the Witer Learning Resource Centre early next week to recognize a $500,000 donation from philanthropists Dr. Marta Witer and Ian Ihnatowycz.
The gift, which supports the school's expansion project, is the largest donation the school has ever received from an alumnus.
"Marta and Ian's passion and commitment to the school and the profession of optometry will help enhance optometric education and will ensure that we are prepared to embrace growth and change in optometry practices across Canada," said Dr. Thomas Freddo, director of the school. "The Witer Learning Resource Centre, a hub of student activity and study, seems a fitting was to recognize such support of optometry."
Their leadership gift toward the school's expansion and renovation project will be celebrated in the naming and dedication of the Witer Learning Resource Centre. The 4,000-square-foot facility is located on the second floor of optometry's new addition.
The centre includes the main collection room, quiet study areas, study carols and additional optometric education materials and resources. It plays a vital role in the study practices of students by giving them the needed space, materials, technology and staff expertise to enhance their knowledge and enable them to achieve academic excellence.
"The profession of optometry has given me a fulfilling and dynamic career that has allowed me to work with patients to address the eye care needs of my community," said Witer, a 1979 graduate. "By giving back to my alma mater, I'm acknowledging the meaningful educational experience I had here as a student. I'm also investing in the education of Canada's future optometrists."
Witer also helped lead her optometry classmates from 1979 in a special appeal to help support the school's expansion and renovation campaign that raised more than $270,000. The class specifically supported renovations of optometry's public clinic. The class will be acknowledged in the space once the work is completed.
"The school was thrilled to have Marta and the Class of '79 come together in such an extraordinary way to help fund our renovations," Freddo said. "The school is truly grateful to have Marta and Ian among our top donors, volunteers and friends."
The new addition will accommodate the school's surge in enrolment to meet the high demand for eye-care professionals across the country. More than 400 alumni and friends, faculty and staff and senior Waterloo officials attended the official opening of the new addition last June.
Featuring a large atrium, the two-storey building expansion enhances the profile of the school while providing additional teaching space and essential student resources, including the Witer Learning Resource Centre.
The school's students are enrolled in a post-undergraduate four-year degree program leading to a professional doctor of optometry. An extensive clinic program provides practical experience for students and health services for the public. Its faculty members engage in innovative research in vision science and optometry.
The school's public clinics provide a wide range of eye care services, including a low vision clinic offering rehabilitation services. As well, a centre for contact lens research investigates the ocular response to contact lenses and other forms of vision correction.