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SCO announces $9.4 million building project to add new academic facility to campus

April 25, 2012

Southern College of Optometry (SCO) announced a $9.4 million building project that will provide its students with new classroom facilities and state-of-the-art instructional space on campus.

The new building in midtown will be the college’s most ambitious undertaking since the construction of The Eye Center, the college’s public clinical facility, in 2002.

“One of the primary reasons our students choose Southern College of Optometry is the clinical education opportunities at The Eye Center,” said Richard W. Phillips, O.D., president of SCO. “We intend to match the caliber of that outstanding clinical facility with a state-of-the-art classroom and instructional teaching building that will meet the educational needs of 21st-century optometry students.”

SCO’s new building will be located on the expansive concrete patio space behind the college’s 11-story tower.

Designed by Memphis-based Formus Inc., the building will provide greater classroom space and flexibility, including enough room to accommodate campus-wide meetings or special events.

An atrium and grand hall will connect the new building to SCO’s existing tower, which was completed in 1970.

Laboratory and other teaching spaces will be moved to the tower’s first floor, closer to the new building.

These spaces will support the curriculum needs of SCO’s four-year academic program.

SCO will break ground May 11, 2012.

The school expects the building to be ready for use in August 2013.

When completed, the building project will add 23,016 square feet to the campus.

To finance the $9.4 million project, SCO has launched a five-year, $4 million capital campaign. An advance phase already has raised $1 million for the project. SCO’s board of trustees will finance the remainder of the project through investments and cost-savings measures over the five-year period.

The comprehensive fundraising campaign also aims to improve scholarship opportunities for students and greater vision care access for Mid-South area patients.

Campaign goals include raising $500,000 for student scholarship opportunities and an additional $500,000 to provide more patient care opportunities in the Mid-South, including school and other community-based vision screenings.

“The success of an educational program involves more than just a physical building,” Dr. Phillips said. “The college is committed to attracting the best students with this comprehensive campaign, which is designed to improve our academic facilities, scholarship opportunities and patient care access.”

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