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AOA President, '81 Graduate, Visits Campus

David Cockrell, OD '81, American Optometric Association President, visited SCO on Wednesday, September 4 to address a campus-wide assembly of students, faculty and staff. 

The SCO graduate and AOA leader spoke on the importance of advocacy for the profession.In his remarks, he outlined scope of practice advances in recent years, including Tennessee and Louisiana. Dr. Cockrell urged students to become involved sooner in their careers and noted the changing landscape of health care delivery as a key reason to become engaged in the advocacy process.

Dr. Cockrell observed that by his count, SCO has produced more state association leaders than any other optometry school. Dr. Cockrell is the 13th SCO alumnus to lead the AOA.

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 9/4/14 | 0 comments

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