Grateful Patient Dr. Gerald Ruth Honors Optometrist Dr. James Hurt by Endowing Scholarship at IU School of Optometry

Thursday, October 29, 2015

“If he hadn’t made that discovery in December of 2013, I might not have my sight today,” says Dr. Gerald Ruth, a professor of geosciences at Indiana University Southeast.  “I’m very grateful and wanted to do something to demonstrate that gratitude.” 

A native of Buffalo, NY, Dr. Ruth received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in Bloomington and began teaching at IU Southeast in 1965. During his 50-year tenure at IU Southeast, he has seen the campus established in New Albany, and he estimates he has taught over 14,000 students.  He and his wife, Ellen, a retired elementary school teacher, have also been generous to the IU Southeast campus, committing more than $31,000 to the university for the purpose of purchasing a state-of-the-art computerized mount and dual telescope system for the IU Southeast observatory.

In August, Dr. Ruth committed $10,000 to the IU School of Optometry for the Dr. James D. Hurt Scholarship, which will be used to support a fourth year student who demonstrates an interest in ocular disease and service to the underprivileged.  Set up as an endowment, the principal of the fund will remain intact and only the interest earned each year will be spent.  “As a donor to an endowed fund, Dr. Ruth’s is a special brand of generosity,” explains Dr. Joseph Bonanno, Dean of the IU School of Optometry.  This type of funding is so important because it exists in perpetuity.  Dr. Ruth has chosen not only to invest in the students of today, but also of the future.  I am personally grateful to him for his enduring commitment.”

The scholarship honors Dr. Ruth’s long-time optometrist and friend, Dr. James Hurt, who is a 1984 graduate of the IU School of Optometry and practices at the Taustine Eye Center in Louisville, KY.  The relationship between the Ruth family and Dr. Hurt goes back many years to Dr. Hurt’s teenage years when they were introduced through their church.  “I am so humbled by this gesture,” says Dr. Hurt.  “Flabbergasted, in fact.” 

Following years of friendship, Dr. Hurt began seeing Dr. Ruth as a patient in 1987.  It wasn’t until December of 2013 that he made a rare discovery and coordinated the surgery on Ruth for closed angle glaucoma, saving his sight.  “It was an ocular emergency,” says Dr. Hurt.  “I’m really glad I was able to help.”

“When I made my appointment in December of 2013, I was reluctant and wanted to wait.  Boy, am I glad I didn’t,” says Dr. Ruth.  “The fact that he made the discovery is profound, and I’m forever indebted.” 

The first-ever recipient of the Dr. James D. Hurt Scholarship will be awarded this fall to an optometry student at Indiana University.