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VOL. 127 | NO. 181 | Monday, September 17, 2012

Grant Supports Optometry College’s Campaign

By Aisling Maki

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Southern College of Optometry has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Plough Foundation to support a construction project that will provide the college’s 500 students with new classroom facilities and state-of-the-art instructional space at its Midtown campus.

To finance the $9.4 million project, the college has launched a five-year, $4 million capital campaign. An advance phase has already raised $2.3 million, and the school’s board of trustees will finance the remainder of the project through investments and cost-saving measures over the five-year period.

The Plough Foundation gift is one of the largest donations to the campaign to date, and school president Dr. Richard W. Phillips says the SCO community “is grateful that the Plough Foundation shares our vision for enhancing the college’s commitment to leading the profession of optometry.”

“For 80 years, optometry students have come to Memphis for their education, and with the Plough Foundation’s support, we will strengthen our ability to continue to recruit top students to SCO and encourage interdisciplinary work between health care professions,” he said in a statement.

Southern College of Optometry is the only private optometry college in the South, and one of only 21 optometry colleges in the nation.

Founded in 1932, the college’s 11-story tower at 1245 Madison Ave. was constructed in the early 1970s. As technology and modern instructional methods have advanced, the college has outgrown its classroom space.

An assessment last year determined that a new facility and instructional spaces were necessary to meet the needs of 21st century health care students.

The school’s new building will be located on the expansive concrete patio space behind the college’s 11-story Madison Avenue tower. Designed by Memphis-based Formus Inc., the building will provide greater classroom space and flexibility, including enough room to accommodate campus-wide meetings and special events.

An atrium and grand hall will connect the new building to the existing tower. Laboratory and other teaching spaces will be moved to the tower’s first floor, closer to the new building, to support the curriculum needs of the college’s four-year academic program.

The college expects the project, whose anticipated completion date is August, will provide an additional 23,000 square feet of space.

Southern College of Optometry is an independent, nonprofit institution of higher education with more than 500 students and residents representing 40 states.

The Eye Center at SCO serves nearly 80,000 patients annually, helping make the college one of the top in the nation for clinical optometric education.

The school’s community outreach program reaches more than 12,000 children each year through vision screenings provided annually to students in local public, private and charter schools.

“The Plough Foundation recognizes the importance of Southern College of Optometry to health care education,” said Scott McCormick, executive director of the Plough Foundation. “And we believe SCO’s work will continue to benefit Memphis, particularly in the great service the college provides to the community by incorporating patient care as part of its clinical education program.”

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