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Southern College of Optometry Announces Honorary Degree Recipient

College recognizes Dr. James Sandefur’s significant contributions to the field of optometry in Louisiana and beyond.




Dr. James Sandefur

Dr. James Sandefur

(PRESS RELEASE) MEMPHIS, TN — Southern College of Optometry announced that it would bestow its prestigious honorary degree, the Doctor of Ocular Science, on Louisiana optometrist Dr. James Sandefur at its 2022 commencement ceremony in Memphis, Tennessee. The college recognized Sandefur for his significant contributions to the field of optometry in his home state and beyond. He operated a private practice for more than 30 years and was among the first optometrists in Louisiana to serve on a hospital staff.

“Dr. Sandefur’s illustrious career is an inspiration to any optometrist, and it’s especially relevant to our young graduates as they embark upon their own careers,” said Dr. Lewis Reich, president of SCO. “His contributions to the optometry world have helped advance access for individuals seeking vision care and expand opportunities for those pursuing a career in the field. He is a highly regarded role model for the next generation of optometrists and was an easy choice when selecting this year’s honorary degree recipient.”

Sandefur earned his Doctor of Optometry degree from SCO in 1965. Following his graduation, he founded The Vision Clinic in Oakdale, Louisiana, where he provided care for more than 30 years before selling the practice. A proud alumnus of SCO, he joined the college’s Board of Trustees. While on the board, he co-chaired the college’s “Envision Our Progress” fundraising campaign, which led to the 2013 construction of a new academic complex. He also served as the board chair in 2019.

Sandefur recently retired as executive director of the Optometry Association of Louisiana. Under his 25 years of leadership, membership in the state’s association doubled. His leadership helped secure passage of numerous bills that help optometrists better serve their patients today.

Sandefur was repeatedly recognized with industry awards for his dedication to his profession. The American Optometric Association honored him with the Distinguished Service Award in 2010 and inducted him into its National Optometry Hall of Fame in 2017. Additionally, the Southwest Council of Optometry honored him for his leadership in the region, and SCO presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 in recognition of his longtime service to the profession of optometry.


The commencement ceremony for SCO’s class of 2022 will take place at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in Memphis, Tennessee, at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, 2022.


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