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Ellis, Elkins to Receive Alumni Awards

Former American Optometric Association President Joe Ellis, OD ’86, has been named Southern College of Optometry’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and SCO faculty member Lindsay Elkins, OD ’07, has been named the college’s Young Alumni Award recipient. SCO will present the awards at this year’s Convocation ceremony on Friday, October 10.

In receiving SCO’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Joe Ellis is being recognized for his significant contributions to the profession of optometry. In June 2010, Dr. Ellis was inaugurated as president of the American Optometric Association. In addition to his successful practice in Kentucky, Dr. Ellis has served as president and legislative chair of the Kentucky Optometric Association’s Board of Trustees.

He led Kentucky’s fight in 1996 for optometrists to obtain oral therapeutic privileges. He’s also been involved in other legislative victories, including a 2000 law requiring children’s school entrance exams and the Access to Quality Eye Care Bill in 2010.He served on the board of the Kentucky Optometric Association from 1990-1996 and as president in 1994-95.

He was named Kentucky’s Young Optometrist of the Year in 1992, and in 1995, Kentucky’s Optometrist of the Year. He also has received three President’s Awards from the KOA. Dr. Ellis currently serves as Chairman of the Board for AOA Excel. Dr. Ellis is board liaison to the American Academy of Optometry. He was named the 2014 Optometrist of the South at SECO in Atlanta.

At the community level, he serves on the Marshall County Hospital Staff and the Marshall County Health Department Board, is a board member of Kentucky’s Local Health Department, serves on the advisory board for the Kentucky Health Insurance Exchange, and is active in the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

As this year’s recipient of SCO’s Young Alumni Award, Lindsay Elkins, OD ’07, becomes the first SCO faculty member to receive the honor. After her graduation, she also completed a Primary Care Residency at the Memphis VA Center.  One year after joining the college’s faculty in 2008, she began leading SCO’s School Screening Program. Dr. Elkins has played an important role in ensuring the program’s success and stability through a school system merger and increased outreach program growth. More than 12,000 students receive screenings each year in the program that she oversees.

Dr. Elkins has supervised SCO students on multiple Remote Area Medical outreach events to provide eye services to those in need. In addition to her role as a clinical educator, Dr. Elkins has also served as Coordinator of the Part I NBEO Review at SCO and as the current lab director in The Eye Center. She has attained her Fellowship in the American Academy of Optometry and presented posters at Academy, AOA, and SECO meetings.

She was the primary investigator for a research study partnering with AEL Laboratories involving culturing methods for corneal ulcers.  In addition to lecturing in continuing education programs, she has published articles in Eye Care Review.

Dr. Elkins serves as the faculty advisor for the SCO BSK chapter, has recently been selected as Vice Chancellor of the BSK World Council, and will be inducted at this fall’s Academy meeting. She served as President of the West Tennessee Optometric Physicians Society in 2010-11 and serves as an Advisory Board Member for Southern Eye Associates.

She’s served as faculty advisor to the Virginia and North Carolina Optometric Student Associations and is currently the advisor to the South Carolina Optometric Student Association. Dr. Elkins also has received the Outstanding SGA Club Advisor Award from students.

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 8/25/14 | 0 comments

Sandefur Named Executive Director of the Year

James Sandefur, OD '65, Executive Director of the Optometry Association of Louisiana was recently selected as the 2014 recipient of the Virgil Deering Optometric Executive Director of the Year Award. Dr. Sandefur received the prestigious award at the 2014 American Optometric Association (AOA) Congress in Philadelphia.

The award, presented annually since 2000 by the North Central States Optometric Council to an outstanding state optometric executive director, recognizes the dedicated, capable leadership and support that state optometric associations receive from their executive directors. The award is named in honor of Virgil Deering, long-time Executive Director of the Iowa Optometric Association.

Dr. Sandefur was recognized for his leadership in restructuring the Optometry Association of Louisiana, his work in the legislature, and his service to optometry on the local, state and national levels. In recognition of a lifetime of service to optometry, he has also been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from Southern College of Optometry, the highest honor the college bestows on its alumni, and the AOA’s Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Sandefur serves on SCO's Board of Trustees.

North Central States Optometric Council is a regional council of 8 state optometric associations whose purpose is to enhance the vision and health of the public and to promote the art and science of the profession of optometry among member states.To learn more about NCSOC, visit

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 8/12/14 | 0 comments

SCO Accepting Nominations for Lifetime Achievement and Young Alumni Award

SCO is now accepting nominations for the college's 19th Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards. The highest honor presented to alumni, this award recognizes outstanding achievement to the profession, college and the graduate's community. Any SCO graduate may nominate fellow alumni by using a PDF form linked here, 2014 Lifetime Achievement. Completed forms may be mailed, emailed, or faxed to the designated information listed at the end of the form. All nominations must be received by June 30, 2014.

Nominations for the Young Alumni Award are also being accepted. Alumni may nominate any graduate from 2004-2013. Service to the profession, leadership and other criteria are to be provided in the nomination. Use this PDF form linked here, 2014 Young Alumni Award, to nominate graduates. Completed forms may be mailed, emailed, or faxed to the designated information listed at the end of the form. The deadline is June 30, 2014.

The awards will be presented at this fall's Convocation ceremony on Friday, October 10, 2014. Contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at (901) 722-3216 for additional information.
Posted by Amy Dunbar at 5/22/14 | 0 comments

Hayes Center Awards Announced

The Hayes Center for Practice Excellence at Southern College of Optometry is pleased to announce the inaugural recipients of its Practice of Excellence Award. The award identifies and rewards successful practices, recognizes achievements of SCO graduates and helps foster joint relationships that benefit SCO’s alumni and current optometry students.

Three different $5,000 awards were designated to honor recent alumni at different stages of their optometric careers. All three recipients own their own practices and exemplify the private practice principles embodied in the Hayes Center’s mission encouraging practice success. Recipients include:

  • Dr. David Hite, Class of 2013, recipient of the Recent Graduate Award for the years 2010-2012. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from SCO and practices at North Range Eye Care in Commerce City, Colorado.
  • Dr. Micah Thomason, Class of 2009, recipient of the Mid-term Graduate Award for the years 2007-2009. Dr. Thomason practices at Advanced Family Eye Care in Springdale, Arkansas.
  • Dr. David Mitchell, Class of 2004, recipient of the Long-Term Graduate Award for the years 2003-2006. Dr. Mitchell practices at Mitchell Family Eye Care in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

“These alumni demonstrate the qualities and attitudes of successful private practitioners who excel at managing the business side of their practices,” said Dr. Jerry Eisenstatt, Executive Director of the Hayes Center for Practice Excellence at SCO. He noted that the awards process attracted nearly 20 initial nominations, all of whom are highly successful in their practices. The inaugural awards were selected by three members of the Hayes Center Advisory Board, made up of alumni private practitioners, and Dr. Eisenstatt in his role as director.

"I want to thank all the applicants and congratulate the three outstanding young ODs who have distinguished themselves as the winners of our first annual Practice of Excellence Awards by demonstrating financial and business success in the private practice of optometry,” said Dr. Jerry Hayes, who co-founded the Hayes Center at his alma mater with his wife, Cris, in 2005.

“While optometry is our profession, private practice is a business in every sense of the word. It’s our mission at the Hayes Center to help students and graduates learn how to do a great job of managing the business side of practice so they can thrive in the real world and maintain the heritage of independent optometry.”

Recipients were judged on their practice’s ability to excel as documented via profit and loss statements, most recent balance sheet, office meeting agendas or minutes, and other key metrics, including gross collected receipts, proper staff management, and a written explanation of how the practice maximizes net income. All three recipients will share their private practice experiences with SCO’s graduating class during the college’s Capstone educational program prior to commencement in May.

The Hayes Center’s creation marked one of the first educational centers based at an optometric college dedicated specifically for the purpose of teaching current and future optometrists how to manage the business side of practice.  Visit to learn more about the resources offered to SCO’s students and alumni, including reading room materials, podcasts and other information. 

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 4/21/14 | 0 comments

SVOSH Honors Dr. Al Fors with Endowment Fund

Successful fundraising over the last several years by SVOSH – Student Volunteers in Optometric Service to Humanity - has enabled the popular student organization to increase the amount of money in the Dr. L. Allen Fors SVOSH Endowment Fund, bringing it to term.

SCO President Richard W. Phillips, OD '78, is pictured accepting a $30,830 check from SVOSH for an endowment fund honoring the late Dr. Al Fors. Joining him are Kaeleen Franson, '15, Madeline Bost, '15, Fallon Cone, '15, Craig Hossenlopp, '15, SVOSH Treasurer Jordan Dau '15, SVOSH President Alanna Khattar '15, SVOSH Advisor Dr. Beth Sparrow, Virgilio Gozum, '15, and Ashlee Henderson, '15.

SVOSH established the fund in 2009 in honor of Dr. Al Fors, a 1969 SCO graduate, long-time SCO faculty member and devoted supporter of SVOSH. Dr. Fors served as SVOSH’s Faculty Advisor for more than 30 years. During that time, he traveled to 10 different countries with SVOSH students and spent countless hours sorting glasses, creating awareness, and preparing students for their trips.

When it was created, the fund was intended to establish an award to honor Dr. Fors’ contributions and continue to help offset travel costs for the student organization’s growing membership,” said SVOSH President Alanna Khattar, ’15. “It is hoped that SVOSH continues to grow each year, allowing SCO students to provide as much vision care and to touch as many lives as possible. The hard work and dedication of SVOSH members past and present is why SVOSH was able to provide this gift, which will in turn continue to help SVOSH grow in the future. “

With the passing of Dr. Fors on February 2, 2014, the award bearing his name enables SVOSH to help sustain his legacy for years to come in recognition for his many contributions to the organization’s success.

SVOSH has grown greatly since its foundation in 1975. The first SVOSH trip was composed of 12 optometry students and three optometrists who went to Costa Rica. The previous two years have seen approximately 100 students and 14 doctors traveling to eight different locations each year, and 2014 trips will have approximately the same in number.

The Dr. L. Allen Fors SVOSH Endowment Fund is a manner for individuals, alumni or organizations to make a tax-deductible donation to SVOSH.  While a donation to the endowment fund cannot go to an individual SVOSH member’s fundraising goal for the year, it benefits the SVOSH group as a whole.

“As a non-profit organization, the endowment fund is a way to provide security for the future of SVOSH,” Khattar said. “Each year SVOSH will receive a percentage of the amount in the endowment fund to put towards travel costs and new portable equipment that will help us provide the best vision care possible on our trips. “

SVOSH is very grateful for donations in any form, and Dr. Fors’ family requested memorials to be made to this particular fund as one of two in which his memory can be honored.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the Dr. L. Allen Fors Endowment Fund, a check can be written to Southern College of Optometry, with “Dr. L. Allen Fors Endowment Fund” written in the memo.  Donations can also be made to the endowment fund online; instructions are available at If you would like to make a donation to an individual SVOSH member, a check may be written to SVOSH at SCO with the name of the member in the memo.

Learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. Fors in this news release about his passing.

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 2/21/14 | 0 comments