Alumni & Friends Spotlights

Larry J. Alexander (1947-2016)

B.S.'70, O.D.'71

Archived Interview from 10/2014

Larry J. Alexander, O.D.’71, FAAO is an IU School of Optometry alumnus and donor. Following graduation, Dr. Alexander served in the US Navy and then as a Professor at the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) School of Optometry for 20 years. Throughout his career, he has contributed to multiple textbooks, published three editions of Primary Care of the Posterior Segment, and served as a consultant to the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO) and the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE). Dr. Alexander is currently the clinical editor for the Optometry and Vision Science (OVS) journal.


Where did you grow up?

“Plainfield Indiana”

Where did you get your BA? What was your major?

“IU Bloomington, Biology/Genetics”

How did you become interested in Optometry as a career?

“Stanley Rafalko was the first lecturer I ever had at IU. He was my Monday 7:30 AM Anatomy lecturer, and we became acquainted. He obviously loved ocular anatomy, and I really took to the Biology courses at IU. One of my pledge brothers, Pat Moss, came from an optometric heritage.”

Who was your favorite instructor during your time at IUSO? Why?

“Actually I had many favorite instructors.  The list of faculty was pretty phenomenal at the time…Irv Borish was just a classic, but you just couldn’t sit on the front row. John Levene probably influenced me the most. Tony Adams continues to be a great friend and a role model. Tony is probably my most favorite as he challenged me and continues to do so. Jerry Strickland was influential and kind. Rogers Reading was extremely kind.  John Amos took me under his wing and pushed me in the medical model direction. Jack Bennett was just a great person to have around. Merrill Allen provided me my quirkish tendencies and intellectual curiosity.  I am a blend of so many influences that it is very difficult to pick a favorite.”

 What is your favorite IUSO memory? 

“Well besides marrying the love of my life, Lynn… probably the student get-togethers; and, of course, working two or three jobs while going to school. That was special.”

 What was your first job in Optometry? 

“I was number one in the doctor’s draft out of IU in 1971 for the state of Indiana, so I quickly joined the Navy and was posted at the Portsmouth Virginia Naval Hospital.”

 What have been your career milestones? 
  • Being a husband, father, and grandfather.
  • Serving in the Navy in a hostile optometric environment.  That shaped my determination to facilitate our persona.
  • Having the opportunity to teach at the UAB School of Optometry for 20 years.
  • Writing the three editions of Primary Care of the Posterior Segment, and contributing to other texts and articles.
  • Having the opportunity to provide continuing education for my peers.
 What is the most rewarding aspect of your career? 

“Teaching both students and doctors and influencing the development of the Medical Model of Optometry.”

 What are some of the major organized professional activities in which you have participated? 

“I am currently the clinical editor for the OVS journal. I have volunteered in the American Optometric Association (AOA) structure. I have served as a consultant to ARBO and COPE.”

What do you wish someone would have told you when you graduated from IUSO?

“Don’t worry. Everything always works out.”

 What advice would you offer to new Optometry grads?

Take care of people/patients, and the money will come. Do not do things for money, but rather, for the good of mankind. You may never make a monetary fortune in Optometry, but you have the capacity to positively affect a number of lives.”