top of page


Donor's Corner: GREGORY KOURI, OD '93


“I couldn’t be where I am today without Len and Stephanie Messner. Only with their guidance would I be able to practice at the level I do today,” says Greg Kouri, OD ’93. “They’ve given their heart and soul to so many people. I wanted to acknowledge their contribution in some significant way.” 

The Drs. Leonard and Stephanie Messner Scholarship Endowment was established to thank the Messners for their significant contribution to the profession. This scholarship will be awarded to a third- or fourth-year student who demonstrates interest in retinal disease and/or neuro-ophthalmic eye diseases. Endowed during ICO’s 150th celebration, this was a perfect moment to reflect on how far the profession has come, not only in the last 150 years but in the last 30 years.

When Dr. Kouri joined the Class of 1993, optometry was at a crossroads. At ICO the Messners played an elemental role in shifting to a full-scope medical model. Dr. Kouri says, “We emulate those we admire and love the most. They were worthy of that in my world. Even then, I knew how important they would be in changing our profession.” 

In the 90s it was not common to do a residency, but Dr. Kouri knew he wanted to continue his education with the Messners. “As both a student and a resident, I remember having conversations about how optometry would evolve. We were going to be primary healthcare providers, and through us, our patients would be referred to the secondary and tertiary systems. Today, this is the reality, highly skilled optometrists are a meaningful part of the medical system. We’ve earned the respect of our colleagues in ophthalmology. They see what we can do, and recognize we work better together.” 

“Dr. Greg Kouri is an exceptional human being,” says Mark K. Colip, OD ’92, who worked with Dr. Kouri in establishing this scholarship. “We served our residency together. He was like a sponge during residency. After residency, he would often call and talk to Len or Stephanie especially if he ran into a particularly challenging case.” These interactions slowly but surely built a deep bond between them.

In South Dakota, Dr. Kouri now runs a legacy practice founded by an ophthalmologist. Over the years, the practice partners saw how much better ODs and MDs operate when they work in tandem. Today he leads the practice. “We have made what we were only dreaming of back then a reality.”

“Greg has always been able to rise above petty turf battles between some ODs and OMDs,” says Dr. Mark Colip. “He really wants to promote full-scope practice for optometrists. We are now working on bringing ICO externs and residents to his practice. We know they will benefit from working in such a progressive environment.” 

Dr. Kouri ends, “It’s meant the world to me to have the Messners’ friendship, and I’m grateful every day to have them in my life.”

Given how huge the Messners' impact has been, Dr. Kouri opened this scholarship to anyone who wants to give. See instructions below.


For those interested in giving to the endowed scholarship, you can go to Select "Tribute Gift" and add the Messners' names in the box. 

For questions, call the Development Office at 312.949.7071 or  

bottom of page