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Q&A: Optometry professor recognized for UH career

Courtesy of Roger Boltz

Boltz served as an optometrist in the Army before returning to UH for his doctorate. | Courtesy of Roger Boltz

Roger Boltz, associate professor at the College of Optometry and associate dean for Finance and Administration, was recently selected as Educator of the Year by the Texas Optometric Association for his outstanding work in advancing the profession of optometry and his dedication to the University.

The Cougar sat down with Boltz to ask how UH shaped his career.

The Cougar: How long have you been at UH? Why did you stay so long?

Roger Boltz: I’ve been on faculty for 38 years, but I’ve actually been at UH for longer.  I received my undergraduate degree and Doctor of Optometry degree from UH. Following two years as an optometrist in the Army, I returned to graduate school and received a PhD from UH in 1978.  I joined the faculty when I completed my PhD. I’ve stayed at UH because I like the people and the University and the (Optometry) College. I’ve seen both grow over the years, and now the College has become the premier optometric institution in the world.

TC: How has UH shaped your career?

Boltz: UH and the College have provided me the opportunity to grow in unexpected directions.  I’ve always believed in doing the best job possible in the role you currently have.  People will recognize your efforts, and new opportunities will come along and you get to choose whether to take them. The College and the University have presented a number of opportunities to take on leadership roles. I’ve had the opportunity to serve on a number of University committees and councils. Within the College, I served as associate dean for Professional Studies for more than 20 years, interim dean for nearly two years, and now associate dean for Finance and Administration.

TC: What is your proudest accomplishment?

Boltz: Of course, being named Educator of the Year by the Texas Optometric Association is a great honor. In my career, I’ve had a hand in the education of more than 3,500 optometrists, most of whom practice in Texas.  To see their successes — how much they have learned and how they promote the profession of optometry — make me proud.

TC: What made you choose the clinical interest of cornea and contact lenses?

Boltz: My interest developed as an optometry student more than 45 years ago. I think the mixture of helping people see and the effects of contact lenses on the physiology and health of the eye is what drew my interest. The field of contact lenses has dramatically changed over this period of time and it’s always interesting to learn and do new things.

TC: What is one important thing you teach your students?

Boltz: Always be doing a good job for your patients is of course the No. 1 priority.  But beyond that, it’s important to really enjoy the interaction with patients.  Our patients come to us most often to enhance their lives, and that gives us the opportunity to interact with them in a positive way — positive for both them and us.

TC: What do you hope to accomplish next in your field of optometry?

Boltz: I’m getting close to retirement.  During the next few years, I hope to continue to do a good job for the College and to mentor someone to step into my shoes.

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