Northeastern State University broke ground on the new Oklahoma College of Optometry facility recently. The long-awaited celebration marks the next step in the college’s mission to better serve students and patients in the years to come. NSUOCO is the only optometry college in the state and one of only 23 in the nation.
“We have started the construction of a building that will match the reputation of the level of instruction and the level of patient care that has been provided here for decades,” Dr. Steve Turner, NSU President said.
Current plans for the project include creating an 85,000 square foot complex-nearly triple the amount of usable space at the existing facility-to house additional exam lanes, labs, classrooms, clinical conference rooms, seminar rooms, an auditorium and optical shop.
According to Turner, it is the most expensive construction project in NSU history at a projected cost of $39.3 million and only reached this point thanks to years of planning and support from across the state and community.
NSU officials discussed finding a new home for the Oklahoma College of Optometry back in 2016 to better address space needs for the growing program. Efforts to find facilities to better accommodate the program led to NSU officials launching the “Building Excellence: A Vision for the Future” fundraising campaign in 2021.
Since launching the fundraising effort, NSU has secured support from various stakeholders to help make the new home a reality. This includes, but is not limited to, the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Senate, the Cherokee Nation, the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma, Cherokee County Commissioners and private donations from faculty, staff, alumni and other friends of the university.
A longtime partner to the Cherokee Nation, NSUOCO has served as the eye care provider for the Cherokee Nation since the college’s founding in 1979. This longstanding partnership means NSUOCO students, residents and faculty are able to experience thousands of immersive learning encounters each year while providing state-of-theart care to a diverse and often underserved population.
The new facility will complement other comprehensive and specialty services ongoing at the various NSUOCO clinics throughout Green Country. NSUOCO and Cherokee Nation officials also look forward to increasing optometric care to patients through the creation of this new optometry facility.
Dr. Kyle Tate, President of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians, discussed the strong relationship between the association and NSUOCO and how it has led the state and country in the field for decades. “In optometry, we are known for being the best,” Tate said.
“Standing tall, Northeastern State University’s Oklahoma College of Optometry will act as an inspiration for students who seek an education in the field of Optometry for years to come,” Northeastern State Government Association President Asa Robbins said.
To support the new home for the NSUOCO facility, visit nsugiving. com/OCOVision. For more info on the College of Optometry visit optometry.nsuok.edu.