Friday, January 12, 2018

Welcome Back Students: Week of January 12th

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board members and Friends,

I’d like to welcome all of our students back to campus. While the week got off to a shaky start because of the weather, we’re now off and running at full speed. 

While many of you were chipping ice from your cars or sleeping the other night, social media outlets were lighting up over the recently published National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) scores for all of the schools and colleges of optometry. The Pennsylvania College of Optometry’s (PCO) results, especially for Part I of the NBEO, have been less than stellar, an unfortunate trend that began in the early 2000s. We have been acutely aware of this and have been making significant changes to the optometric curriculum and academic policies, as well as the schedule for third year optometry students, which is the academic year the exam is taken. 

Previously, PCO was the only optometry program in the country that sent students off campus for externships prior to the exam. For the class of 2019 and subsequent classes, we changed that policy, requiring them to remain on campus in order to better prepare for the exam. Dean Trego has also implemented other significant academic policy changes in addition to making adjustments to the core curriculum. I recently shared my thoughts with the Class of 2019 concerning our mutual responsibilities in achieving success and I am certain we will see progress moving forward. 

Below are links to our website so you can see and hear Dr. Trego’s thoughts and initiatives concerning this important issue: 

On January 5, University faculty took part in an abridged University Development Day. Attendees participated in three sessions to enhance their skills in the creation of syllabi, and to learn more about instructional technology and online resources across the University. Although shorter than originally scheduled, thanks to the inclement weather, the sessions provided a great overview of the areas covered. From my perspective, the only low point of the entire day was having Dr. Scharre, vice president for Academic Affairs, announce her impending retirement at the end of the academic year.  As I said last week in my note to everyone, she will be sorely missed.

I encourage all of you to head over to the Hafter Student Center to check out the newest art exhibition in the D’Arrigo Gallery, the “3rd Street Gallery Members Exhibition.”  It’s a real treat to see all these wonderful works of art, many of which are for sale, displayed on the walls of the Hafter Center lobby. Please take the time to wander over to enjoy the artwork. There’s also a reception scheduled for Saturday, January 13 from 1-3 p.m. in the Gallery as the official opening of the exhibit. 

Earlier this week we hosted one of our Montgomery County Commissioners, Mr. Ken Lawrence, as an opportunity to show him and some of his staff members around the University. He clearly was impressed by all we do, not only on campus but also in the community. It’s important to ensure our local representatives understand what Salus brings to the greater Philadelphia and Montgomery County communities so I really welcome and enjoy the times I have to share (and often brag) about all the great things you do every day. Next week we will be hosting State Representative Thomas Murt who I know is looking forward to his visit. 

Thanks to some legwork by Dr. Linda Casser, we also hosted several folks from Carolinas Chinese Chamber of Commerce earlier this week. They are interested in working with us to help expand our educational efforts in China. I want to express my thanks to everyone who took the time to prepare and meet with the three representatives from the group. I know they walked away very impressed with our staff and programs. Any time we have the opportunity to educate others about what we do and how we do it is a good thing. 

I’d also like to thank Drs. Saba Hans and Hei In Tang for their very informative lectures during PCO’s Grand Rounds this morning. Dr. Hans reported on a patient who was going through opioid withdrawal and the associated ocular symptoms. Her talk addresses what has become the public health issue of this decade – that of opioid addiction.  As healthcare professionals, we all must be acutely aware of this to ensure we can recognize those afflicted and help to direct them towards the appropriate treatment options. Dr. Tang reported on a patient who had neovascular glaucoma, which is always a very interesting topic as there are many complications and multiple ways to treat this disorder. Both lectures were thought provoking and provided great insights for everyone who attended.

Wishing everyone a great weekend and an Eagles win on Saturday!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy New Year: Week of December 29th


As we conclude what has been an extremely productive and eventful 2017 and shift our attention to 2018, I want to convey my thanks and very best wishes to all of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, Board of Trustee members and friends for all you have brought to Salus. I’m certain 2018 will present us with many challenges and opportunities that will allow us to continue to excel in all we do across the University. As we begin this long New Year’s weekend, Tanis and I would like to wish everyone a very healthy, happy and prosperous New Year! Be safe, stay warm and take some time to enjoy family and friends. I very much look forward to hitting the deck running with all of you when we return to campus next week!


Friday, December 15, 2017

Celebrating the Holidays: Week of December 15th

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board Members and Friends,

As we celebrate the holidays and 2017 comes to an end, I want to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your dedication, hard work, unwavering commitment to Salus and for all those we serve as a University community.  All this has resulted in a great year!  I want to especially thank our students and faculty for their curiosity and drive, their open minds and commitment to learning and caring, which is what makes Salus University a very special, vibrant place to work and learn.

As I mentioned at today’s on-campus holiday celebration, over the last 12 months, we’ve opened our new Learning Resource Center and accompanying classroom, completed the construction of the Optometric Clinical Procedures Lab and adjacent Virtual Realty training lab, modernized several current classrooms, renovated the second floor of the Hafter Student Center to accommodate our student organizations and upgraded furniture throughout the building for everyone to enjoy, just to name of few of your accomplishments.  

We’ve also started plans to begin a major renovation and modernization of classrooms S304 and S305 as well as an update of the University bookstore. I know many of you have also achieved professional and personal milestones in your lives of which includes our recent 100% board pass rate for the Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2017; many new Fellowships in the American Academy of Optometry; and personal leadership and scholastic achievements.  Congratulations on all you’ve achieved!  

As we enter 2018 we will continue to assess the scope and quality of each of the program’s curriculum, continue to execute our Master Facility Plan and continue to improve the financial stewardship and performance of the University’s Clinical Operations. 

All this will take your continued creativity, energy and dedication to our mission of leading in innovative education, research and service to enhance the health of those we serve.  

Please be safe; enjoy the holidays and spend the time to enjoy your families and friends. I look forward to seeing you all back energized and ready to take on the challenges and opportunities that 2018 will bring our way.  


Friday, December 8, 2017

Snow is Coming! Week of December 8th

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board Members and Friends,

I hope everyone is having a great Friday!  It’s cold and the weather forecasters are predicting snow for the first time this year tomorrow.  We’ll see…

This morning, many of us were treated to a wonderful Grand Rounds lecture from Dr. Bernie Blaustein. Dr. Blaustein has been a member of our optometric clinical teaching staff since 1974, which is a bit over 43 years! He’s been an optometrist for over 50 years and we have been so very lucky to have him on staff. Today’s engaging Ground Rounds lecture covered 50 years of clinical experiences that were priceless.  Many of us remember having Dr. Blaustein when we were students at The Eye Institute. Always patient and willing to provide students with the time to teach and explore options, Bernie has influenced the way we practice this great profession for as long as he’s been a teacher and mentor. Dr. Blaustein, who will be retiring after this month, was awarded Professor emeritus status by the Board of Trustees several months ago. Some of Dr. Blaustein’s many accomplishments include serving as Chief of Optometry Services at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Coatesville, Pa., and as editor for both the Ocular Manifestations of Neurologic Disease and Ocular Manifestations of Systemic Disease. During his professional career, Dr. Blaustein has written numerous professional articles and chapters in optometric texts, has also regularly presented papers and has lectured at various professional conferences. He also previously served as director of the PCO Residency Program and has always taken a special interest in educating our young optometric interns and residents. We wish him “fair winds and following seas” as he begins his well-earned retirement - but also hope to see him around The Eye Institute from time to time doing what he loves and also what he does best - teaching and mentoring all of us!

Last Friday, Mr. Don Kates and I attended the Metropolitan Caucus, a political event in New York sponsored by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. We had the opportunity to meet and more importantly, tell many local politicians and civic leaders about Salus and the wonderful services we provide for children and others in the greater Philadelphia and Montgomery County regions. There were over 500 people at this one event which, hopefully, helped to raise awareness about Salus and all of the great things our faculty, staff and students do for our communities on a daily basis.  

Earlier this week, Drs. Janice Scharre, Brooke Kruemmling, Gregory Benjamin, Radhika Aravamudhan and I attended the annual meeting of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. As our University's accrediting body, we had the opportunity to learn more about new standards and rules that will affect us over the coming years. While each one of our programs also has individual accrediting bodies, Salus, along with over 560 other universities in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country, is accredited by Middle States. Since we successfully completed our Periodic Review Report last year, our next accreditation visit will be in 2020. But, it’s never too early to begin to prepare for these visits and to learn about any new incoming standards in which we need to adhere.  As always, we learned a great deal and felt confident we’re moving in the right direction.  

At 5 p.m. this evening, PCO will be hosting a reception for the American Optometric Association’s InfantSEE program in the Hafter Student Center. Tomorrow, an InfantSEE community event will be held at The Eye Institute at 10 a.m. The InfantSEE program is a public health initiative managed by Optometry Cares, the Foundation of the American Optometric Association. It’s designed to ensure vision care becomes a vital part of an infant’s wellness program. Optometrists who are part of this program provide a no-cost initial eye assessment to children between 6 to 12 months of age. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that on December 7th we remembered the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. This significant event thrust the United States into World War II, thus defining a generation of Americans as “Our Greatest Generation." Many American service men and women lost their lives or were injured on December 7, 1941. Please take a moment to reflect on this and the brave men and women who sacrificed everything to preserve the freedoms we enjoy today.  

Finally, on a much lighter note, tomorrow is the annual Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field here in Philadelphia. As many believe, last year’s Army win was a fluke, but we’ll see how this year’s event turns out :-).  


Have a great weekend,


Friday, December 1, 2017

December is Here: Week of December 1st

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving holiday last week. It’s December 1st and it seems that the time between Thanksgiving and the New Year always goes by so quickly!

I have a policy of not commenting on things happening in Washington unless they can directly affect Salus or our student body. The tax bills the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have introduced fall into the category of something that can have a significant impact on Salus and all colleges and universities. These bills, as presented, include provisions that would impede our ability to fulfill the University’s mission to provide an outstanding education for our students and care for our patients. This is what I sent out to all alumni last night and I wanted you all to see it as well since it can directly affect all of us. In addition to potentially raising the national debt by over $1 trillion over the course of ten years, the current version of the legislation also mandates the following:

  • An annual 1.4 percent excise tax on endowment income. Although it is too early to put a specific number on the impact this tax would have on Salus, it nevertheless would reduce the institution’s ability to support its students.
  • An end to access to the market for tax-free bonds. Access to tax-exempt debt is how many colleges and universities like Salus are able to make critical investments in our buildings and facilities.
  • A repeal of the student loan interest deduction, used by many who are paying off student loans.
  • An end to various tuition credits for students.
  • An end for most taxpayers to itemized deductions, which, along with a proposed repeal of the estate tax, will have a serious negative effect on philanthropy for all not-for-profit organizations.
  • The elimination of tax-free employer tuition reimbursement - a benefit which attracts employees who otherwise earn less.

I assure you we will do everything we can to sustain our commitment to our mission. However, Congress’ tax bill, as proposed, actually will raise the cost of higher education. We strongly encourage everyone to contact their federal legislators. We’re not sure what the final outcome will be but I do believe it’s important for our elected representatives to know and understand the implications of their actions at the local level.

On a more positive note, earlier this week I had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS), which is the largest meeting of the Military Health System with over 5,000 attendees. Drs. Karen Hanson and Felix Barker presented the multidisciplinary work they, along with Drs. Lynn Greenspan, Bre Myers and Kathleen Youse have been doing in support of our Veterans Readiness Initiative (VRI) program. Launched in 2015, the VRI provides multi-sensory screenings to veterans at local community colleges with the goal of identifying and removing any potential barriers to reintegration and education success. Their work has identified returning veterans with mild traumatic brain injury and other associated disorders that our faculty, students and staff have been able to help manage. The poster our team presented during this meeting garnered a great deal of attention and interest and hopefully will inspire a funding source from the Department of Defense (DoD) or the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Next Friday, December 8th, our Learning Resource Center (LRC) will be visited by the Montgomery County SPCA who will be bringing a golden retriever and rabbit (yes, I did say rabbit) to help you all take a break from studying. If you’re in the area of the LRC, you will notice a couple of boxes for donations to the SPCA. They’re hoping we can help them collect full size towels, small litter pans, newspaper, cat and kitten food and cleaning supplies with the exception of Pine Sol.

Finally, this afternoon, Don Kates, our CFO and I will be traveling to New York to represent Salus at the Metropolitan Caucus which provides a forum for elected officials from the five southeast Pennsylvania counties to meet to discuss and collaborate on key issues that cut across our region. This presents a great opportunity to educate legislators about Salus and what we bring to the greater Philadelphia and Montgomery County regions.

For those of you getting ready for finals, I hope you have a productive study weekend! I also wish everyone a safe and restful weekend!


Monday, November 20, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving From Salus University!

Dear fellow alumni and friends,

As we approach Thanksgiving we pause to count our blessings for the freedom of this great country in which we live and for all of those opportunities that come from that freedom to achieve great things. Traditionally, individuals come together to celebrate this most American holiday with family and friends to recount the joys and blessings of the past year. I hope you use this week’s holiday to take stock of the good fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared; grateful for the bounty that enriches our lives every day. This year, in particular with all that’s happening around the world and also in our own country, we have much to reflect on but also much to be thankful.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our extremely gifted and dedicated faculty and staff for all you have done for our students and our institution this year. You’ve accomplished much, often without much fanfare but with great impact on our mission. This was quite evident at this year’s Salus Awards Gala that was held last Thursday evening where many of you were recognized by our student body for the exceptional work you do every day. Thanks to our student council for organizing this important and fun event!

I would also like to thank our students for trusting and selecting Salus as your choice to pursue your given professions and for your continued support as we work to provide you with the finest professional education available. Everyone at Salus realizes you’re the reason we’re here and we are extremely thankful.

As many of our neighbors and friends pause to lend a hand to those in need, we are also reminded of the indelible spirit of compassion and mutual responsibility that has distinguished Americans since our earliest days. This spirit is alive and well here at Salus every day - whether it is by taking care of those underserved in our on campus facilities - The Eye Institute, the Pennsylvania Ear Institute or the Speech-Language Institute – or caring for children in schools through our Looking Out for Kids initiative or providing care for patients in the various clinical settings we support, the University’s faculty, staff and students are living the Thanksgiving spirit every day, and I sincerely thank and admire you for that.

As we prepare for this week’s holiday, I want to thank you for what you do every day to make us a very special place to learn, work and support our community.

Tanis and I wish you all a very safe and restful Thanksgiving with your family and friends!



Friday, November 17, 2017

An Eventful Fall for Salus - Week of November 17, 2018

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board Members and Friends,

Happy Friday! November is very quickly passing before our eyes. Before we know it, we’ll be sitting around the table eating turkey and cranberry sauce. But, before we get there, there’s lots of great stuff to report that has been happening at Salus - on and off campus.

Our Looking Out for Kids charity fundraiser last Saturday evening was a huge success. We had almost 300 people in attendance at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill, Pa. to help us raise money for the important task we conduct each academic year of providing comprehensive vision care to uninsured and under-insured children in the Philadelphia and Montgomery County schools. To all of you who helped organize, contribute to, or sponsor the event, thank you very much! Check out the event on NBC10!

This weekend, the University's Pennsylvania College of Optometry is hosting the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) Clinic Directors and Administrators Special Interest Group Workshop both in Center City and on our Elkins Park campus. I would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Maria Parisi and Mr. John Gaal as well as their staff for taking the lead on organizing the three day workshop along with multiple events. About 120 people will participate in this very comprehensive and important workshop.

In the University's Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies, Drs. Fabiana Perla, director of the Orientation and Mobility program, and Yi Yang, an assistant professor at Penn State Abington have initiated a collaborative project. Faculty members are joined by three students in our Orientation and Mobility Program along with three graduate electrical engineering students from Penn State in a project to create an electronic travel device for individuals who are blind or have severe visual impairments. The Penn State team has been coming on campus for a series of instructional sessions on Fridays. We’re very excited about this work.

Faculty and students from the University's Osborne College of Audiology (OCA) attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology conference recently and while there, they honored Dr. Jim Zeigler, one of the college’s clinical preceptors, with the George S. Osborne Honors Award. The award, named for the founder of OCA, is presented to an outstanding Pennsylvania audiologist and advocate for their profession. Congratulations Dr. Zeigler!

This weekend, the Pennsylvania Optometric Association will be co-hosting a comprehensive continuing education event in Harrisburg as part of “Dr. Lombardi’s Final Tour.” This event is being held on Sunday, November 19 at the Best Western Premier/Central Hotel and Conference Center in Harrisburg, PA. Following the lectures, there will be a reception from 3:30-5:30 p.m. hosted by the Pennsylvania College of Optometry to celebrate Dr. Lombardi’s upcoming retirement. There will be food, drinks and sharing of memories. We hope to see many PCO alumni there!

Have a great weekend. I hope you can get out and enjoy this great fall weather before it starts to rain tomorrow.