Northeastern State University is home to one of only 23 accredited optometry schools in the United States and the program is viewed as successful program, but the vision for this specialized college is still growing.

Plans are in the works to create new facilities for NSU's Oklahoma College of Optometry. The new complex will be built with the intention of expanding the existing college in Tahlequah so it can educate more optometrists and service more patients.

Alex Clover is the optometry program representative for NSUOCO. He works with NSUOCO and alumni, to promote the optometry college and help facilitate this new venture.

"NSU and the Oklahoma College of Optometry administrations are continuing to work with senators and representatives from the state of Oklahoma on the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding to secure funding for our new school building. Conversations happening with other entities are also showing progress," said Clover. 

Dr. Steve Turner, president of NSU, has laid out a vision plan.

"Four years of programming and planning have resulted in an exciting vision of an optometry complex that serves the community, students, residents and alumni," wrote Turner. "The proposed 101,500-square-foot complex will feature state-of-the-art equipment, up-to-date classroom technology, and specialized clinics for low vision, vision therapy, vision rehabilitation, primary care and contact lenses, as well as a surgical suite for Oklahoma optometry’s expanded scope of practice. The estimated cost of the new complex is approximately $33 million."

NSU's Optometry program current provides over 40,000 patient encounters per year. The new facility, based on proposals, would increase clinical exam lanes by 20 percent, which is likely to increase the number of patients that can be seen. 

There are existing structures on the main campus, as well as the Walls Vision Center in Broken Arrow, the latter of which was only built a few years ago. Named after Dr. Lesley Walls, former dean of NSUOCO, the Broken Arrow facility was designed to be physically accessible to elderly and handicapped patients. It functions as a rehabilitative-focused optometry facility wherein patients recovering from brain injury, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the eye can get the help they need.

The facilities now on the Tahlequah campus are too small and will require renovation in several areas. The need for new facilities has been apparent for a few years now.

"The time has come for this top-rated program to move to a facility that matches it reputation," wrote Turner.

Candace Riley is the executive assistant to the dean of the college of optometry and has sat in on many meetings focusing on the new facilities.

"We are fundraising and planning for [the] whole new optometry complex on the Tahlequah campus," said Riley. "It will be built across the street from the alumni center."

The land plot for the new facilities is at the corner of Crafton Street and Cedar Avenue. It will be three stories high and feature a clinic, labs, classrooms, and more.

You can help

For more information about the project and to view plans, visit NSUGiving.com/OCOVision

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