SCO receives $300,000 Plough Foundation grant

September 13, 2012

Southern College of Optometry (SCO) announced it was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Plough Foundation. The grant will support a new building project that will provide SCO’s 500 students with new classroom facilities and state-of-the-art instructional space at its midtown Memphis campus.

“The entire Southern College of Optometry community is grateful that the Plough Foundation shares our vision for enhancing the college’s commitment to leading the profession of optometry,” said Richard W. Phillips, O.D., president of SCO. “For 80 years, optometry students have come to Memphis for their education, and with the Plough Foundation’s support, we will strengthen our ability to continue to recruit top students to SCO and encourage interdisciplinary work between health care professions.”

Founded in Memphis in 1932, SCO is one of only 21 optometry colleges in the United States. As technology and modern instructional methods advanced, the college outgrew its classroom space in the institution’s 11-story tower that was constructed at 1245 Madison Ave. in the early 1970s. An assessment last year determined that a new classroom facility and instructional spaces were necessary to meet the needs of 21st century health care students. The Plough Foundation grant will enable the college to provide new facilities for its students.

“The Plough Foundation recognizes the importance of Southern College of Optometry to health care education, and we believe SCO’s work will continue to benefit Memphis, particularly in the great service the college provides to the community by incorporating patient care as part of its clinical education program,” said Scott McCormick, executive director of the Plough Foundation.

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 and special events.

An atrium and grand hall will connect the new building to SCO’s existing tower. Laboratory and other teaching spaces will be moved to the tower’s first floor in closer proximity of the new building to support the curriculum needs of SCO’s four-year academic program.

“The students at Southern College of Optometry are grateful to the Plough Foundation for their support of optometric education here in Memphis,” said Stephanie Lew, president of the Student Government Association at SCO. “SCO students from across the country choose to come to Memphis because of the college’s outstanding reputation, and the Plough Foundation’s support will enhance SCO’s ability to continue to recruit top students with these new academic facilities.”

The college expects the building to be ready for use in August 2013. When completed, the building project will provide an additional 23,016 square feet of space. To finance the $9.4 million project, SCO has launched a five-year, $4 million capital campaign. An advance phase has already raised $2.3 million. SCO’s Board of Trustees will finance the remainder of the project through investments and cost-savings measures over the five-year period.

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