Dr. Keshia S. Elder became the 5th dean of the College of Optometry at the University of Missouri–St. Louis in 2022. She is the first African American female in the nation to lead a school of optometry.
Elder earned her MS in vision science and Doctor of Optometry degree from the UAB School of Optometry and holds an MS in instructional design and development from the UAB School of Education
The South Carolina native began her optometry career in 1998 as assistant head optometrist at the Naval Medical Clinic in Annapolis, MD. She ascended to head optometrist at practices within the United States Navy during a five-year stint in the Medical Service Corps.
In 2004, her career in academia began at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology where she served as an assistant professor. Elder then held assistant and associate professor roles at UABSO and UMSL before returning to UABSO in 2016.
A proven leader, she became the School’s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in 2020. She is the externship director and completed the university’s Health Leadership Academy. During her tenure at UABSO, Elder served as course director of Clinical Management of Vision Problems, Public Health Optometry II, and Contact Lenses II. She was an attending in UAB Eye Care’s Contact Lens and Primary Care Clinics as well.
Elder’s involvement in professional organizations includes being a member of the American Optometric Association and serving as associate editor for the journal Optometric Education by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). She serves as the ASCO Applicant Pool Development Taskforce liaison to the Diversity and Cultural Competency Committee. She is chair of the ASCO Diversity, Equity and Inclusion special interest group (SIG) and is, therefore, the ASCO DEI SIG liaison to the DCCC. Elder is co-chair of the ASCO Externship SIG, serves as the Trustee At-Large II for the National Optometric Association, and is a member of the Nominating Committee for the American Academy of Optometry.
Lastly, Elder has earned DEI certifications from UAB’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the University of South Florida Muma College of Business.