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Southern College of Optometry recently hosted its eleventh annual State Day event that brought 20+ representatives to campus from state and national optometry associations. The event was designed to promote the importance of organized optometry to SCO’s optometry students.
During the first day of the 2-day event, students were treated to an evening reception with state representatives and state club dinners.
During the second day, students attended a State Day Presentation about “A moderated discussion of burning optometric issues,” which was moderated by James Venable, O.D. ’89. Panelists including AOA Trustee Ron Benner, O.D., Kentucky Optometric Association representative Dinah Bevington, J.D., Colorado Optometric Association representative Katie Brown Bond, O.D., ’16, and Pennsylvania Optometric Association representative Erick Henderson, O.D., ’17 participated in the question and answer sessions with students. The panel allowed students to interact and learn more about the state of optometry and the need for students to get involved early in networking and becoming engaged with the AOA and their state associations.
An evening event allowed students to students to participate in a tradeshow where State associations were allocated booths to provide information and meet one on one with students. A number of student clubs joined representatives from their home states at dinner to conclude the evening.
In addition to the AOA, representatives were in attendance from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
SCO has named George Miller, CFRE, as the college’s new Vice President for Institutional Advancement. Miller, who previously worked at SCO nearly a decade ago as Director of Development, brings nearly 20 years of experience as an advancement professional and leader.
“He is a highly qualified, dynamic leader with a proven track record of success in non-profit fundraising and execution of strategic initiatives,” said SCO President Lewis Reich, OD, PhD.
“George has extensive experience working with board members and senior-level executives. He was selected to fill this critical position after an exhaustive national search and extensive interview process. Everyone who interviewed George came away impressed with his enthusiasm, knowledge, and insights into the role of building positive relationships as a cornerstone of fundraising.”
Miller previously served as Senior Account Director at the Gabriel Group, where he developed and executed fundraising campaigns for a number of national nonprofits. Previously, he was Vice President for Operation Smile and The Pursuant Group.
Additional development roles included director-level positions at the Pi Kappa Alpha Foundation and Delta State University Foundation. Miller received his MBA and a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Delta State University. He earned his Certified Fundraising Executive Credential, CFRE, in 2006. Miller and his wife, Rachel, are the parents of three children and live in Southaven, Mississippi.
“George’s familiarity with SCO was certainly an asset, but his experiences and successes at Operation Smile and with a variety of consulting clients demonstrated the key strengths needed to guide our development and marketing programs,” Dr. Reich added.
Institutional Advancement priorities in 2020 will include connecting with SCO’s alumni base, consistently the college’s most significant group of supporters.
“In fact, Mr. Miller’s expertise will assist future endeavors in identifying key demographics and different alumni segmentation for targeted fundraising appeals, so he, too, appreciates the value of how to best relate and connect with core constituencies,” Dr. Reich said.
Institutional Advancement oversees Development, Alumni Affairs, the Hayes Center for Practice Excellence, Community Engagement, and Communications. Expect to hear more in 2020 about some of the exemplary ideas and processes that Miller will be implementing to enhance SCO’s fundraising and marketing strategies to ensure our continued success.
For the 23rd consecutive year, Southern College of Optometry’s student loan cohort default rates remains at zero percent. This is according to the U.S. Department of Education’s newly released numbers for FY2016.
The FY2016 student loan cohort default rates reveal that SCO graduates are successfully transitioning to the optometric practice.
“This is great news,” said Cindy Garner, Director of Financial Aid. “Our graduates continue to have much success practicing optometry and doing what they least want to do, which is to repay their student loans.”
A cohort default rate represents the percentage of a college or university’s borrowers who have defaulted on their student loans. The FY2016 national average was 10.1 %, down from last year’s rate of 10.8%, yet SCO’s default rate remained at zero percent.
“The cohort default rate is an important measure of a school’s overall quality. It reflects our success in preparing our students to practice optometry,” said Garner. “This is a great accomplishment and it reflects admirably on each member of the SCO family.
SCO’s Financial Aid Office actively works with students to provide them with strategies to manage their student indebtedness levels. From budgeting workshops to one-on-one sessions with a financial aid counselor, the college is committed to partnering with students to ensure their success in optometry. Student scholarships provided by SCO’s alumni and friends also play an important part in managing student debt levels.
Southern College of Optometry's 2019 Convocation ceremony recognized the achievements of students, alumni, faculty, and staff with several awards and recognition presented. Of special note, the Class of 2023 gathered for its official white coat group portrait.
Receiving SCO's Lifetime Achievement Award - the highest honor bestowed by the college - was Allan Barker, OD '75. Dr. Barker is known for his practice success in North Carolina and his leadership of Optometry Cares - the AOA's Foundation.
Receiving SCO's Young Alumni Award was Matt Jones, OD '09. He has served as president of the Arkansas Optometric Association. Dr. Jones recently helped lead the successful legislative effort to expand the scope of practice and allow ODs to user lasers in Arkansas.
Members of SCO's Class of 1969 were also recognized as they returned for their 50-year reunion during Fall Homecoming and Continuing Education Weekend. Each attendee was presented with a 50-year commemorative diploma.
Scholarships and other awards were presented to attendees from throughout the SCO campus community. Many of SCO's student awards and scholarships were made possible by the generosity of the college's alumni and friends who support the Annual Campaign and Endowed Scholarship funds.
Among those recognized:
Military Service Scholarships
U.S. AIR FORCE
Francis Parr ’20
Samantha Macchio ’20
Trey Ketchum ’21
Basic Science and Clinical Awards
1ST YEAR BASIC SCIENCE AWARDS: Matthew Bills ’22, Alexandria Cloud ’22, Andrew Dahl ’22, Nathan DeClue ’22, Kalina Harrell ’22, Abigail Klick ’22, Joseph Luiso ’22, Annie McLean ’22, Holly Pederson ’22, Rachel Steele ’22
1ST YEAR CLINICAL SCIENCE AWARDS: Stephania Carreno ’22, Caleb Chesnut ’22, Riley Juenemann ’22, Gabrielle Magee ’22, Brittany Parker ’22, Holly Pederson ’22, Regan Stone ’22, Alexandra Turner ’22, Rachel Williams ’22, Cassity Youssef ’22
2ND YEAR BASIC SCIENCE AWARDS: Savannah Caro ’21, Brittany Darnley ’21, Samantha Ellingson ’21, Anna Lansdell ’21, Samantha Lee ’21, Chelsea Lula ’21, Stephanie Martich ’21, Dee-Dee Robinson ’21, Breeley Sellier ’21, Alec Waters ’21
2ND YEAR CLINICAL SCIENCE AWARDS: Samantha Ellingson ’21, Lindsey George ’21, Anna Girsky ’21, Jonathan Ismond ’21, Autumn Killop ’21, Casey Krug ’21, Anna Lansdell ’21, Katelyn Marks ’21, Stephanie Martich ’21, Pheba Shibu ’21
3RD YEAR CLINICAL SKILLS AWARDS (Given in memory of former faculty member, Dr. Robert L. Henry.): Kyle Klug ’20, Heaven Lilliman ’20, Samantha Macchio ’20, Callie Mashburn ’20, Alexandria Perry ’20, Julia Reimold ’20, Stephanie Ross ’20, Jana Socey ’20, Aaron Tollett ’20, Annie Wester ’20
The following Endowed Class Scholarships recognized outstanding leadership and professionalism by members of the Classes of 2010, 2021 and 2022.
Alumni and Friends Scholarships
SCO alumni and friends generously support and recognize academic accomplishments and leadership within the student body. As such, the following endowed scholarships and awards have been established in support of SCO students.
State and Professional Associations
Corporate Partners and Ophthalmic Industry
2018-19 Faculty of the Year
CLASS OF 2020
CLASS OF 2021
CLASS OF 2022
BSK TEACHER OF THE YEAR AWARDS
SCO employees spent their morning volunteering in a number of hands-on activities to help other nonprofits in our community as part of SCO's Staff Service Day.
SCO continues our work to enhance collaboration with community partners through community engagement and various service opportunities.
Volunteers interacted with patients at LeBonheur Children's Hospital, prepared food and participated in a community cookout at Catholic Charities of West Tennessee, attended a ceremony and dropped off food honoring First Responders, set up a book fair and read to schoolchildren at Bruce Elementary School, and packed meals to be distributed by Meals of Hope.
Visit our Facebook page to view the photos from our SCO Service Day.