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Midwestern University eyes new optometry school in Downers Grove

Published: Thursday, July 10, 2014 1:00 p.m. CDT

DOWNERS GROVE – Midwestern University is in the early planning stages for a new school of optometry on the Downers Grove campus.

Downers Grove village staff presented council members with initial planning documents July 1 for the four-story building that would house the new school.

Midwestern University spokesperson Jill Blair-Smith said the university has not yet obtained state approval for the program and its implementation could be more than two years away. The university declined to share more details about the program.

Buildings more than 50 feet tall that aren't already in the university's 2012 plan of development that's filed with the village must be approved by the village council. The council heard the amendment to the plan of development July 1 and will now hold a vote to approve the plan. The university would still need to come back for building permits if the project progresses.

"[I] cannot think of a Midwestern University project that's come before us that we didn't like," Mayor Martin Tully said. "It always enhances the campus and it enhances the area, and it enhances the community. So we are pleased to be a part of their success."

Downers Grove Acting Community Development Director Stan Popovich said the four-story optometry building, if built, would be placed near the center of campus. It would have both classrooms and office space. The four-year optometry program would consist of two years on campus, and then two years of off-campus clinical rotations for the students, he said.

The university also submitted plans for a new residential building on the north-east corner of campus that would be used by management personnel visiting from the Arizona campus.

Popovich said staff believes the plans meets the goals of the village comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance requirements and the plan development standards.

The optometry school would grow a rapidly expanding roster of disciplines offered by Midwestern University in Downers Grove.

"They're adding new schools all the time, which is great," Downers Grove Commissioner Sean Durkin said. "It'd be interesting to know how much further they will go."

Last summer, the university opened its new $114 million Multispecialty Clinic at 3450 Lacey Road. The first portion of the building to open was 130,000-square-foot Dental Institute, which has been joined by other programs including family medicine.

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For more information about Midwestern University, visit www.midwestern.edu/

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