Scholarship created to honor President Emeritus Clifford “Scotty” Scott

emeritus clifford scott headshot

The Board of Trustees of the New England College of Optometry has established an endowed, need-based scholarship to honor Clifford “Scotty” Scott, OD, MPH and his more than fifty years—and counting—of contributions to the college.

The Dr. Clifford A. Scott Scholarship will be awarded annually to one or more OD students chosen by the Admissions Office beginning in the fall of 2022.

The scholarship has been in the works since Dr. Scott’s 2018 retirement as president of the college. “We wanted to find a fitting way to honor Scotty and the impact he’s had not only as a leader of the NECO community, but also as a dedicated educator and compassionate person,” explains Joe Zolner, EdD, chair of the Board’s Development Committee. “We felt that a scholarship, particularly an endowed one that can enable financial awards in perpetuity, was in keeping with Scotty’s passion for the success of NECO students and vision for the future of the college.”

Chair of the Board of Trustees, Kristen Griebel, OD ‘97, points out that in addition to financial support, a scholarship offers inspiration and encouragement. “Scholarships give access to higher education for students of all income levels,” she says. “Yet certain scholarships mean so much more because of what they represent. The Scott scholarship will personalize this financial relief and make future generations of NECO students feel appreciated, which will also lead to their greater success at the institution.”

Board members were united in wanting the scholarship to be awarded on the basis of financial need. “Scotty’s heart has been so invested in wanting students to succeed and in promoting the quality and spirit of campus life,” Dr. Zolner adds. “A need-based scholarship that will make a NECO education possible opportunities for high-achieving students with financial constraints is consistent with both Scott’s personality and ideals.”

“NECO always attracts the best and brightest applicants,” Dr. Scott says. “However, every year, a few students decline the college’s offer of admission due to their inability to afford the expenses that accompany a robust clinical curriculum and living in Boston. I am extremely grateful that the Board of Trustees recognized the need to address this important issue and honored me in the process.”

While donations from Board members kickstarted the scholarship and enabled it to reach the minimum threshold required to establish an endowment, additional funds are now being solicited to enable a more substantial disbursement and the option to expand the award to more than one student each year. Providing financial aid to high-achieving students is an important component of NECO’s ability to enroll and retain a diverse and academically distinguished student body.

Dr. Scott received his Doctor of Optometry degree from NECO (then the Massachusetts College of Optometry) in 1968, and served as an Air Force optometrist and chief optometrist at the West Roxbury VA Medical Center. He became a professor at NECO in 1990, and later served as chair of the Department of Community Health, dean of Academic Affairs, and, from 2009 to 2018, president of the college.

He played a crucial role in implementing the model of a comprehensive clinical campus, where patient care, student learning, and clinical research take place together in a shared space  The culmination of this critical institutional priority was creation of the NECO Center for Eye Care Commonwealth in 2018. Upon Dr. Scott’s retirement, and in recognition of his more than five decades of distinguished service to NECO, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved his appointment as president emeritus.

“Scotty mentored countless students and contributed so much to the classroom, the clinical program, and the leadership of the college,” Zolner says. “By establishing this student scholarship in his name, the Board of Trustees is honored to recognize such a worthy and beloved member of the NECO family.”