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Southern California College of Optometry Celebrates 120 Years of Educational and Clinical Excellence

Marshall B. Ketchum University’s SCCO commemorates 12 decades of delivering best-in-class optometric education.




(PRESS RELEASE) FULLERTON, CA – Marshall B. Ketchum University (MBKU), an independent, private, non-profit, accredited educational institution headquartered in Fullerton, Calif. proudly celebrates the 120th anniversary of its Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO). Originally founded in 1904, SCCO was the first optometry school in California. Since then, it has earned a reputation as one of the oldest and most esteemed optometry schools in the nation. With a rich history that blends instruction, patient care, research and public service, SCCO stands as a beacon of excellence that has attracted top-tier researchers, clinicians and professors and cultivated numerous leaders in the field.

“SCCO’s 120-year journey signifies more than just longevity; it represents a commitment to best-in-class optometric education,” said Dr. Julie A. Schornack, president at MBKU. “This milestone is an opportunity to recognize the collective efforts of the leaders, faculty, students and alumni who have shaped not only our institutional legacy but the long-term success of thousands of health care professionals.”

SCCO proudly offers Doctor of Optometry (OD) and Master of Science (MS) in Vision Science degrees, with its OD program accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association (AOA), enabling graduates to practice in all 50 states. Led by distinguished faculty, SCCO provides small cohort sizes averaging 100 students, involvement in 15 optometry-related clubs and dedicated faculty mentors for each student.

Additionally, while not required in the field, SCCO offers a number of robust residency programs across the country that offer a year of post-graduate clinical opportunities to support students in refining their clinical expertise and pursuing specialization. This commitment to excellence extends to research, with SCCO boasting a long history of nationally and internationally recognized contributions including a multitude of publications in prestigious medical journals and thousands of citations covering a wide range of topics including ophthalmology, surgery, optometry, pathology and psychiatry.

Two advanced University Eye Centers, strategically situated in Anaheim Hills and Los Angeles, Calif. underscore SCCO’s dedication to hands-on learning, community impact and accessible, quality care. These Ketchum Health facilities enable students to gain hands-on experience across a spectrum of specialties—from primary care and cornea/contact lenses to pediatric vision care, ocular disease treatment and vision therapy—while also receiving exposure to cutting-edge technologies and making a lasting and positive impact on the community.

Central to MBKU’s educational ethos is its distinctive emphasis on interprofessional learning, which cultivates future professionals who prioritize teamwork and holistic patient well-being—enhancing care through the convergence of diverse disciplines. Students in MBKU’s optometry, pharmacy and physician assistant programs actively engage in real-world simulations, collaborative projects and case studies, fostering practical insights into efficient health care teamwork. This melding of perspectives fuels a vibrant exchange of ideas, shaping well-rounded professionals equipped to meet the complexities of modern health care delivery.


“Our focus on interprofessional collaboration is something that truly sets SCCO apart,” added Dr. Susan Cotter, president of the American Academy of Optometry and faculty member at SCCO. “By curating a more holistic approach to optometric education, we empower our students to excel by equipping them with the diverse skillset needed to adapt in today’s rapidly evolving medical landscape.”

As SCCO celebrates its 120-year legacy, it remains steadfast in its commitment to cultivating the leaders of tomorrow. Leveraging its past achievements as inspiration for future innovations, SCCO is poised to continue to shape the industry for generations to come.



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