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MEMPHIS, Tenn., February 25, 2019 – An agreement between the Optometry Association of Louisiana (OAL) and Southern College of Optometry (SCO) has resulted in the transfer of a $1.5 million trust to SCO made possible by the estate of the late Dr. Mark W. Franks, a 1955 SCO graduate and longtime Louisiana optometrist.
W.E. Marionneaux, OD '69, SCO President Lewis Reich, OD, PhD, and SCO Board Chair and OAL Executive Director James Sandefur, OD '65, at the check presentation in New Orleans.
Following his death in 1989, Dr. Franks and his wife, Mary, bequeathed approximately $500,000 to the Optometry Association of Louisiana to establish a low interest loan trust for Louisiana optometry students who attended SCO. After several years of legal and financial transactions to establish the trust, it finally came to fruition in 2000, at which time the college agreed to help administer the loan program with oversight from the OAL.
To expand upon the potential impact originally envisioned by Dr. Franks more than 30 years ago, this year an agreement was reached to donate the existing trust fund and its control to SCO to form the Mark W. Franks and Mary Franks Scholarship and Loan Fund. Thanks to sound financial management, coupled with faithful loan repayments, the fund’s total current value is approximately $1.5 million, making it the single largest bequeathment gift in the college’s 87-year history.
“Southern College of Optometry is grateful to the Optometry Association of Louisiana and the memory of Dr. Franks and his wife in establishing this fund,” said Dr. Lewis Reich, SCO president. “Dr. Franks was a self-made man who came to Memphis for his optometric education back in the early 1950s. The education he received at SCO enabled him to practice optometry in Winnsboro, Louisiana until his death in 1989, so the collaboration on this gift is a fitting tribute to the memory of a remarkable SCO graduate.”
SCO Board of Trustees Chair Dr. James Sandefur, a 1965 SCO graduate, also serves as the OAL’s Executive Director and joined Dr. Reich in making the announcement at the college’s reception for alumni and friends during SECO International’s New Orleans convention for 6,000 optometric professionals from around the world.
“Louisiana is one of the nation’s most forward-thinking states when it comes to the practice of optometry and the scope of our profession, so this gift underscores our state’s commitment to recruiting the best and brightest optometry students to join our profession and follow in the tradition of Dr. Mark Franks,” Dr. Sandefur said.
“As Board Chair of SCO and as Executive Director of the OAL, I know first-hand that Dr. Franks loved optometry, Louisiana, and knew how important it was to give back to his profession so future optometric physicians could follow in his footsteps.”
The New Orleans announcement paid tribute to Dr. Franks, who was born March 17, 1922 in Owasso, Oklahoma. After working in construction, he served his country in World War II and pursued an engineering degree before switching to optometry. He worked his way through SCO by serving as a draftsman on a Memphis railroad yard. Memories of Dr. Franks were also provided by his practice’s longtime partner, Dr. W.E. Marionneaux, a 1969 SCO graduate.
Southern College of Optometry is the only accredited optometry college in Tennessee. As one of only 23 optometry college’s in the nation, the college attracts many of its more than 500 students across the nation, including several dozen students currently enrolled from Louisiana.
Southern College of Optometry welcomed Anita Davis, Ph.D., and Jennifer Lyerly, O.D., '11, as the newest members to join the college's Board of Trustees.
Dr. Davis currently serves as vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Trinity College in Connecticut and is a tenured associate professor at Rhodes College here in Memphis. She visited campus last year as one of the researchers involved in SCO's ongoing diversity and inclusion study.
As a member of the National Association of Diversity Officer in Higher Education, Dr. Davis holds both a Ph.D and M.A. degrees in clinical/community psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a B.A. from Rhodes College.
Dr. Lyerly graduated Summa Cum Laude from SCO and was named Outstanding Clinician in her class. She was also awarded SCO’s Young Alumni Award in 2017 for her service, leadership, and support of SCO. She practices in Cary, North Carolina with a focus on specialty contact lenses.
Dr. Lyerly has also cofounded Defocus Media, a social media management company for private practice ODs and is the cohost of Defocus Media Podcast. She is also the founder of Eyedolatry Blog, an eyecare website with a focus on encouraging women’s leadership within optometry. Dr. Lyerly was named one of Vision Monday's Most Influential Women in Optometry in 2015 and was a 2018 Transition Academy's Brand Ambassador of the Year.
During its 2017-2018 fiscal year, Southern College of Optometry’s clinical programs provided $1,697,691 in uncompensated optometric care in the Memphis community. Uncompensated care represents numerous outreach programs geared toward bringing eye care to the community, as well as care for uninsured or underinsured patients.
“This unparalleled access to care benefits the Memphis community and our students, who complete approximately 3,000 individual patient encounters by graduation,” said Dr. James Venable, vice president for clinical programs at SCO.
Approximately 80 percent of SCO’s uncompensated care came through professional services in one of the college’s clinical facilities, including services offered through collaborations with Church Health Center®, InfantSEE®, Baptist Outreach Programs® and others. The remaining 20 percent results from community-based services like education events and SCO’s School Screenings Program, which services area students.
“SCO and The Eye Center are exceptional educational and clinical institutions with the potential to significantly impact Memphis and beyond,” Venable said. “It underscores our commitment to our community and to growing our outreach efforts. Although we have nearly reached our limit, we can to grow this number with assistance from partners in our community.”
Southern College of Optometry (SCO) and their Department of Grants and Community Engagement (GCE) are pleased to welcome the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to campus for their first working meeting.
The CAC came about to directly address a core pillar of SCO’s current strategic plan: Strengthening Relationships within Memphis. The CAC will help achieve this strategic initiative by offering an outside perspective from an interdisciplinary team of community constituents.
The CAC members include Maria Fuhrmann from the City of Memphis, Mark Sturgis from Seeding Success Partnership, newly appointed District 6 City Council Member Gerre Curry from Financial Federal, Dr. Phil Baker from Good Shepherd Health and Caprice Morgan from United Healthcare Community Outreach.
(L-R) Dr. Phil Baker, Caprice Morgan, Maria Fuhrmann, Christine Weinreich, and Gerre Curry
"I joined the committee to better understand the vision health challenges in our community, and to assist with connecting community organizations with those in the community who desperately need vision and other medical treatment,” Caprice Morgan, United Healthcare Community Outreach
“Over the past few years, I have continued to be pleasantly surprised by the wonderful services SCO provides. I appreciate the opportunity to elevate the work SCO does for the Memphis community and help connect them to more Memphians that can benefit from the excellent care they provide,” Maria Fuhrmann, Deputy Chief of Staff, City of Memphis
These committee members will develop a partnership plan informed by students, patients, and community need. This plan will position GCE to identify community partners and deploy SCO’s current resources while garnering new resources to achieve maximum impact in the community.
SCO is partnering with Christian Brothers University’s Physician Assistant Program, Union University’s School of Social Work, Good Shepherd Pharmacy, and the Church Health Nutrition Hub to offer an interprofessional diabetes clinic to provide healthcare to diabetes patients.
Recently, the institutions held their first IPE Diabetes Clinic Experience and invited patients to Crosstown Concourse to experience healthcare in optometry, nutrition, and pharmacy. Throughout the day, patients were provided nutrition education, learned how to prepare healthy meals in the Church Health Nutrition Hub and were provided physical assessments and eye exams by CBU’s physician assistants and SCO students respectively. They were also provided patient counseling by Union University, medication review by Good Shepherd Pharmacy.
“This clinic is important for both our patients and our students. Our patients will experience support and partnership in facing the challenges of living with diabetes,” said Melissa Zarn Urankar, OD, Director of Interprofessional Education. “Our students will experience that diabetes affects a person’s entire well-being and not just the area they are trained to evaluate.”
The IPE Diabetes Clinic Experience will continue on a quarterly basis as we continue to help diabetes patients live a healthier lifestyle. The next event will be Tuesday, April 9, 2019.