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$11.5 million gift is UIW's biggest; Optometry school named for the Rosenbergs
December 3, 2010

Erin R. Nosel inspects new equipment at UIW's Sandra and Stanley Rosenberg School of Optometry.







By Melissa Ludwig

University of the Incarnate Word has received the largest single gift in its history, an $11.5 million donation from local lawyer Stanley Rosenberg and his wife, Sandra.

Though the gift is for the university in general, UIW has named its new optometry school in honor of the benefactors, making the Sandra and Stanley Rosenberg School of Optometry the only named optometry school in the nation, said Lou Agnese, president of UIW. It's also one of the larger gifts by a Jewish family to a Catholic institution, he said.

"At UIW, we welcome people of all faiths and we want them to grow in whatever faith ... Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or Baptist. That is why we have support from the entire community, not just the Catholic community. Hanukkah started yesterday, so this was a very appropriate day" to announce the gift, Agnese said.

The second-largest gift in the university's history is from Gayle and Tom Benson, who footed the capital costs for Benson stadium. The Bensons have declined to release the amount.

Benson stadium, the Feik School of Pharmacy and the Rosenberg gift all are part of a $70 million capital campaign at UIW. So far, the school has raised $45.3 million of its goal, Agnese said.

The optometry school is UIW's newest project - it enrolled the first class of 60 students in 2009 and is housed at the old Rackspace Hosting headquarters on Datapoint Drive in the heart of the Medical Center. The academic headquarters and a 24-7 clinical eye care facility take up 67,000 square feet in the building.

The clinic is scheduled to open to the public in January. The first class will graduate in 2013.

"Our faculty are folks at the top of their practice and they come from everywhere in the country," said H. Simon Birry, founding dean of the optometry school.

The second phase is a clinical eye-care facility slated for the East Side on 4.5 acres at Walters and East Commerce streets. UIW currently is raising $11.5 million to build the clinic.

"On the whole East Side, there is one practicing optometrist," Agnese said. "It is a commitment on our part to help meets the needs of a really underserved area."

Despite the matching figures, the Rosenberg gift is not anticipated for the East Side clinic. But the gift did help UIW buy the Datapoint building, which it had been leasing, Birry said.

Each clinical location will offer a wide range of services, with a special emphasis on pediatric eye care and low-vision services.

"We will put (the gift) to good use by graduating excellent clinicians," Birry said.
According to Agnese, optometry schools are few and far between, despite strong demand in the field.

There are 20 in the contiguous United States, and only two in Texas - UIW and the University of Houston. UIW's is the first in the nation located at a faith-based university.

The school's economic impact over a 10-year period is estimated at $300 million, Agnese said.

"It fits into the niche here in San Antonio that we have been building as a community in the health care area," Agnese said.

The Rosenbergs have made one other gift to UIW, a $1 million gift for the Rosenberg Sky Room.

Stanley Rosenberg is senior partner in the Tuggey Rosenthal Pauerstein Sandoloski Agather LLP law firm in San Antonio and is the adviser and attorney for the New Orleans Saints' owner, Tom Benson.

A native of San Antonio, Rosenberg received his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and is a retired U.S. Air Force captain. The Rosenbergs also have given generously to the UT Health Science Center and UT-Austin, and are active in many boards and foundations throughout the community.

"It is a real honor when you have a school named for you as a legacy," Agnese said. "Every diploma granted will be from the Rosenberg School of Optometry ... and every graduate will have that on their wall."


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