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Dr. Cochran, a third-generation optometrist, graduated from SCO in 1968. He then served as a captain in the U.S. Army’s Medical Service Corps. After completing his military service, Dr. Cochran spent 13 years in a private practice, primary care optometry partnership in Mississippi.
In 1984, Dr. Cochran was named president of SCO, and he began to make changes to move the college beyond its regional image and into the national arena of optometric education. Under Dr. Cochran’s leadership, SCO began working to fund scholarships and to improve academic standards. He implemented a student recruitment program that saw student enrollment grow from 90 to 120 entering students per year.
By his second decade as SCO president, Dr. Cochran had improved and stabilized the college’s finances. This strengthened the college’s ability to meet the educational, clinical, and technological needs of the students.
By the late 1990s, the college had outgrown its clinical facilities. SCO launched a capital campaign to construct The Eye Center at SCO, a freestanding clinic designed as a long-term teaching and patient care facility. The Eye Center at SCO opened in 2002 as the largest facility of its kind in the United States.
Within the AOA, Dr. Cochran served on the Task Force on Negotiations in 1974. He also served on the Nominations Committee and in the House of Delegates. He spent four years on the AOA’s Leadership Development Committee and five years as AOA Keyperson.
Dr. Cochran was active in the Mississippi Optometric Association (MOA). He served as the MOA’s Legislative Committee chairman from 1972-1974. He spent three years on the MOA’s board before becoming president in 1978.
Dr. Cochran was also on the board of ASCO. He spent nine years on ASCO’s Executive Committee and served as president in 1991. Additionally, Dr. Cochran served on the Board of Directors of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO).