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Commencement Archives

Congratulations, doctors!


Commencement 2021

May 15, 2021, ICO held its 178th Commencement for Illinois College of Optometry. It was the first ceremony to be held on ICO's campus. Streaming our entire ceremony on Facebook Live and YouTube, we welcomed 132 new doctors into the profession of optometry.

The Class of 2021 chose Dr. Gary Lesher to deliver the Commencement Address. In addition to being a beloved ICO professor since 1983, Dr Lesher has taught and inspired over 5,000 previous ICO graduates. In addition to serving as an ICO teacher of pharmacology and toxicology, he has also been a researcher, administrator, board member, author, department chair, and has provided countless hours of testimony before state legislatures nationwide for expanding the prescribing privileges of optometrists.

Each graduate is now a member of ICO’s expansive alumni network. Visit the Alumni section of this website to discover the resources and opportunities available to all ICO alumni.

Congratulations, new doctors!

A Look Back

Speaker Highlights:

This year's commencement was the very first ceremony held on ICO's campus. Playing into the familiar environment of the ICO lecture hall, Dr. Lesher told students to "get out their clickers" and framed his speech around multiple-choice trivia questions on America's National Parks and the "Drug of the Day."

Dr. Lesher reminded graduating students to:

Educate Their Patients - The COVID-19 vaccine served as the cornerstone of Dr. Lesher's address. Addressing the graduates, he said, "At no time in history, has it been more apparent that understanding pharmacology is critical to your everyday lives... You all have the needed knowledge and understanding of science and medicine to educate your patients on this important healthcare crisis...," Dr. Lesher continued, "it is your responsibility to... help them understand the basic science and pharmacology of vaccines."

Remain Agile - Recognizing the many ways Class of 2021 has had to "adjust, adapt, pivot, and simply do whatever is needed to do to continue their training," he praised this class's many successes, including their excellent NBEO scores.

Be the Best - Throughout the speech, Dr. Lesher emphasized the excellent education graduates had had and also the importance of continuing as both mentors and trustworthy sources of information. "You are the most educated and up-to-date doctors of optometry on the planet. Go out and do your best every day!" He urged students to "keep learning, to work to improve your clinical skills, to treat each patient as an individual, and to respect everyone every day."

Class of 2021, you have made us all proud and we are so happy to introduce to our alumni the newest ICO ODs.

More Resources:



View and download images from the event on Flickr.​



Reference the program used during the ceremony.


Fun Facts:

  • 132 members in the graduating class

  • 28 states represented

  • 5 Canadian provinces represented

  • 2 countries represented

  • >25% graduated with high honors

  • $200,000+ in scholarships and awards were recognized at Capstone

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