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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

SCO Remembers Al Fors, OD '69

SCO Professor Emeritus L. Allen Fors, OD '69, MEd, died Sunday, February 2. One of the longest-serving members of the Southern College of Optometry faculty, he taught from 1969 through 2011.

Dr. Fors devoted his career to teaching optometry, working with children to help them overcome learning disabilities, and to helping bring sight to the disadvantaged in countries around the globe. After his 1969 graduation from SCO, he received the E.B. Alexander Fellowship to Gesell Institute of Child Development in 1970 and 1971. Dr. Fors later received his master’s degree in education from Memphis State University, where his emphasis focused on learning disabilities in children.

In 1989, he became a Fellow of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD). Dr. Fors was a charter member of the Mid-City Lions Club and served on the Board of Directors for the West Tennessee Lions Clubs Foundation. In 1986, he was named Mid-City Lions Club “Lion of the Year.”

He notably served as the long-time faculty advisor to Student Volunteers in Optometric Service to Humanity (SVOSH) at SCO since its inception in 1975. Under his leadership, SVOSH made more than dozens of trips to foreign countries in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. During his years, students in SVOSH performed more than 250,000 examinations and prescribed approximately more than 200,000 pairs of glasses, services valued conservatively at more than $16 million.

As faculty advisor and a charter member of SVOSH, Dr. Fors donated countless hours to organizing trips, preparing eyeglasses, working with Lions Clubs, helping students and ensuring that this organization’s mission of helping others succeeded year after year. He was a multiple recipient of the annual SVOSH Humanitarian Award.

In 2003, Dr. Fors was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Southern College of Optometry. The Lifetime Achievement Award honors SCO alumni who have demonstrated exemplary leadership skills and made outstanding contributions to the college and the profession of optometry. Following his retirement in 2011, Dr. Fors was named a Professor Emeritus by SCO’s Board of Trustees.

A memorial service was scheduled for Saturday, February 8, from 2-4 pm at the Shelby Farms’ Visitor’s Center. His family requested that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to one of the two SCO funds named in Dr. Fors’ honor: the  SVOSH endowment fund or the Glen T. Steele, OD and L. Allen Fors, OD, Developmental Vision Endowment.Contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at (800) 238-0180, ext. 4., or make a gift online at Select “other” as your category and enter the name of one of these two funds.

Many alumni and former colleagues of Dr. Fors have also left their remembrances on SCO’s Facebook page announcement of his passing. You may read these or add your comments here.

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 2/5/14 | 0 comments

Arkansas Alumni Honored

Several alumni were honored at the Spring Convention of the Arkansas Optometric Association held in Little Rock. Congratulations to:

  • Joe Sugg, OD '09, Young OD of the Year
  • Dale Morris, OD '73, Lifetime of Excellence Award
  • Kenny Wyatt, OD '73, Lifetime of Excellence Award
  • Harry Denison, OD '66, Lifetime of Excellence Award

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 4/29/13 | 0 comments

SCO Partners with Harris Connect for New 2013 Alumni Directory

SCO has partnered with Harris Connect to create a newly updated 2013 Alumni Directory for the college's graduates. Our ongoing partnership with Harris Connect resulted in previous, popular editions.

The 2013 edition is expected to include listings/profiles of alumni in a biographical section, a class year section listing alumni by the primary class year, a geographical section denoting in which states, cities, and towns our alumni reside, and an area of practice section where alumni are found under each of three practice emphases. 

You may receive a phone call or postcard in the mail or even an email from Harris Connect asking you to verify your information for listing in the directory. These updates are very valuable to SCO!

Graduates who know they would like to be included in the SCO Alumni Directory or those with a question or request, do not have to wait to contacted by postcard or phone. They can all (800) 366-9394, the dedicated SCO line at Harris Connect. If you know a graduate who would have an interest in being included, help us spread the word.

Alumni will be given the opportunity to purchase directories or other offers from Harris Connect. Please note that as in the past, these offers are coordinated by Harris Connect and not SCO. We appreciate your willingness to include your information to create the 2013 Alumni Directory and for your consideration of these valuable keepsakes published by Harris Connect.

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 4/11/13 | 0 comments