Keshia Elder Will Be the First Black Woman to Lead a School of Optometry in the United States

Keshia Elder has been named dean of the College of Optometry at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. When she takes office on September 1, she will be the first Black woman to lead a school of optometry in the United States.

Dr. Elder has been serving as director of diversity, equity, and inclusion and director of externships at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. She was an associate clinical professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis from 2011 to 2016.

“The optometrists that are trained at UMSL are some of the best that exist in the country, but it’s important that we not only just educate students,” Dr. Elder said. “Because we are in academia, we also have a responsibility to contribute to the body of knowledge that exists in our profession.”

Dr. Elder added that “it is important that faculty, staff, and students represent the people that we serve. The only way that we can really change the face of the profession is by making sure that we have a diverse representation of the profession within our schools and colleges of optometry.”

Dr. Elder is a graduate of Clemson University in South Carolina, where she majored in mathematics. She holds two master’s degrees – one in vision science and a second in instructional design – and a doctor of optometry degree, all from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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