Balancing Science and Communication

Speech alumnus chosen as vice chairman for Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

On March 9, 2018, Texas Governor Greg Abbott appointed Moody College of Communication alumnus Fred Farias, III, O.D. (B.S. '80) as vice chairman of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board with his term to expire Aug. 31, 2023. The board provides leadership and coordination for the Texas higher education system. This honor comes in the wake of his appointment to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in Feb. 2016 and his selection of a national award in his field of optometry. 


Fred Farias


Farias was previously selected as the 2016 Optometrist of the Year by the American Optometric Association (AOA). A therapeutic optometrist and an optometric glaucoma specialist, Farias was recognized for his years of service to his patients, the AOA and his profession, along with his commitment to public service.

“When I was studying at UT Austin, I knew I wanted to go into a health profession,” Farias said. “I knew if I were to open my own practice or clinic, effective communication with patients would be an important part of this. Now that I have my own practice, I draw upon my training from the college constantly, including persuasive and nonverbal communication.”

Farias earned his bachelor’s in speech communication from Moody College before graduating in 1987 from the Southern College of Optometry. He is currently CEO of 20/20 Vision Care in McAllen, Texas.

“Any health profession is a balance of science and communication,” Farias said. “At my practice, we see patients every day, and I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve heard patients say that they’ve seen the best doctors, but that they can’t always understand them. Communication is vital, even in research. Doctors also need to be able to communicate with other doctors in order to share findings from studies and new developments.”

Farias is the immediate past president of the Texas Optometric Association, which named him its 2015 Optometrist of the Year. Additionally, he has served as president of the Rio Grande Valley Optometric Society.He organizes and sponsors vision screenings for underserved communities in south Texas, participated in numerous public health programs through the AOA Foundation and works as a member of the AOA Federal Legislative Action and Keyperson Committee.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed him to the Texas Optometry Board from 2001-2007.

Nick Hundley