Friday, September 29, 2017

Fall Has Arrived: Week of September 29th

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

It’s a beautiful fall day in Philadelphia - finally!  It’s a great way to end what has been a busy and productive week at the University.  

On Monday, we hosted our Board of Trustees on campus for their quarterly meeting. I had the opportunity to provide an update on many of the initiatives we all have been involved in both over the course of the last few months as well as over the past few years. During the course of the meeting, the Board acknowledged the wonderful work our student member of the Board of Trustees (SMOTBOT), Pelashia Moore Rhodes ‘18OD,  has done representing our student body throughout her two year term. With all of the associated committee meetings it was a very busy, yet productive day.  We’re extremely lucky to have a board endowed with great leadership, strategic vision and immense professional talent.  

This week, the Osborne College of Audiology (OCA) was extremely well represented by students, faculty and college Advisory Board members at the 2017 Academy of Doctors of Audiology conference in Connecticut. OCA class of 2018 students Jessica Strzepek, Katrina Smith, Roksolana Voshchilo and Amanda McVey competed in the Business Plan competition with Jessica and Katrina winning 2nd place and Roksolana and Amanda winning 3rd. Congratulations!

I would also like to acknowledge and congratulate the staff of our Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS) program on receiving a $1.25 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSEP) on the topic of Inter-professional Education (IPE).  This represents the combined work of our BLVS, Occupational Therapy and Speech- Language Pathology departments and provides a unique opportunity for Salus as a whole. The University’s College of Education and Rehabilitation demonstrates how IPE can effectively prepare our students to work within multi-disciplinary, inter-professional environments that will undoubtedly affect their future health professions.

I know most of you have been following the major natural disaster in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria. We’ve reached out to the optometry school there to see what assistance they might need but have not heard back yet. Between Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, our country has experienced widespread damage affecting the lives of millions of people. Please join me in keeping all of those affected by these storms in your thoughts and prayers. While we may not see many headlines, people in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico will be dealing with the aftermath of these disasters for years to come.  

Yesterday, PCO dean Dr. Trego and I hosted senior representatives from Johnson and Johnson (J&J), to include alumnus Dr. Kurt Moody ’83, and representatives from Wills Eye Hospital at both The Eye Institute and Elkins Park campus. The purpose of the visit was to showcase our state-of-the-art facilities and inform J&J leadership about our programs as well as to discuss ways that J&J could help facilitate collaborations between Wills Eye and Salus. We came up with several ideas that I believe will be beneficial to our students and patients as well as Wills Eye’s residents and patients. It’s pretty exciting to explore ways two premier eye care institutions can work together to the benefit of many.  More on this as we continue to work with both Wills and J&J. 

Finally, tonight is the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. To all of our Jewish students and colleagues, we wish you an easy fast. 

A reminder that our Looking Out of Kids charity fundraiser is November 11 at 6:30 at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill. Tickets are now available and can be obtained on our website at

It looks like the weekend is going to remain cool and sunny.  If you get a chance, get out and enjoy this great fall weather.  Stay safe and have some fun!


Monday, September 25, 2017

Looking Toward Fall: Week of September 23rd

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

Well, the calendar says it is fall but the temperature certainly doesn’t feel like it! I guess September in Philadelphia can go either way – this year it’s hot!

I want to wish all of our Jewish colleagues and friends a very Happy and Healthy New Year as you celebrate Rosh Hashanah this week and prepare for Yom Kippur next week. May this year be peaceful and prosperous.

I’d like to congratulate those students from our Occupational Therapy program who were inducted into Pi Theta Epsilon, the national honor society for occupational therapy students. This represented
the third ceremony of this type for the University’s Delta Mu chapter. This year’s inductees were: Josie Bachman, Rachel Bosley, Mary Burzinski, Kelsey Clawson, Michael Eppel, Amanda Feinberg, Colleen Gannon, Andrew Goble, Kristin Hart, Amber Kilmer, Haley Kooistra, John Merz, Forest Miller, Arielle Mosche and Alyssa Soorikian.

As September starts to wind down and we look to October, we start to think about fall commencement. This year, for the first time, we’ll be holding the ceremony at the Kimmel Center for
Performing Arts, the same location for our May commencement and most recently our White Coat Ceremony. Because this tends to have a smaller audience, the ceremony will be held in the Perelman Theater as opposed to Verizon Hall. We’ve very honored to welcome Dr. Rachel Levine, the Physician General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Acting Secretary of Health as our commencement speaker. Dr. Levine will also receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the ceremony. Please put October 9, 2 p.m. on your calendars as this promises to be a very memorable event.

As I’m writing this in the middle of the weekend, I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the weekend. Take advantage of the nice weather as I imagine all this warm weather will give way to cooler days in the weeks ahead. Be safe and have fun. We look forward to welcoming our very dedicated and talented Board of Trustees on campus this Monday for their quarterly meeting.



Michael H. Mittelman, OD, MPH, FAAO, FACHE

Friday, September 15, 2017

Grateful to Be On Our Way Home: Week of September 15th

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

I am writing this while en route back from the World Congress of Optometry that was held in Hyderabad, India this past week.  Salus was well represented by Drs. Melissa Vitek and Satya Verma, both of whom presented posters and lectures to the over 1,200 participants from all over the world.  It was especially gratifying to reconnect with Salus PCO graduates from our international and MPH programs that are either in key leadership positions in the organization or were presenting lectures and posters.  We also had the opportunity to discuss our new Clinical Procedures and Virtual Reality labs and hold several meetings with prospective national organizations who were interested in our International Clinical Optometry and Advanced Placement programs.  It was an extremely interesting, productive, and busy week and we’ll all be very glad to be back at Salus next week!

Keeping with an international theme, we’ve had the opportunity to host eight students from Qassim University in Saudi Arabia on campus over the past couple of months.  This is part of an ongoing agreement we have with Qassim to provide lectures, seminars and controlled patient care experiences for students who are completing a one-year internship after graduating from Qassim. While at Salus, these students received additional training in several optometric areas to include low vision, binocular vision, glaucoma, and posterior and anterior segment. 

I am very pleased to share that Zhi Lin (known to us as Julia), who is a graduate of the Salus Advanced Placement Doctor of Optometry program (APOD), made history by publishing the first primary eye care and clinical procedures manual in Chinese. The textbook entitled, "Eye Health Management,” includes comprehensive information about how to conduct comprehensive primary care eye exams for both children and adults with a focus on the clinical aspects of optometry.  I was honored to receive a copy of the book and it’s quite impressive.  Please join me in congratulating Julia on her accomplishment.

Moving closer to home, thanks to the efforts of our Alumni Association, twice a year travel grants are awarded to a select group of students from each program in an effort to help advance their professional and humanitarian goals throughout their education. Students are given the opportunity to use the funds to attend program specific national or regional conferences and participate in a variety of health screenings during humanitarian trips. The latest group of travel grant recipients used their funding for activities from February through the end of July 2017.  This is a great opportunity for these students to expand their knowledge base as well as spread the good word about Salus.

Whenever I return from these long trips, even to countries like India, where everyone was so friendly and helpful, I have a renewed appreciation for all we have in the United States, often taken for granted.  After experiencing the traffic and what I would term “exciting” driving conditions in India, seeing their mass transportation system with people hanging out of city buses during rush hour, I will certainly look at SEPTA and the Schuylkill Expressway in a much different light!  Even with everything that’s swirling around us, we are extremely lucky to be in the U.S.  Please take a moment to reflect on that as you approach this weekend.  Also, please keep those recovering from both Hurricane Harvey and Irma in your thoughts and prayers.  While not prominent in the news anymore, the victims still have a long ways to go before their lives return to normal.
It’s looking like it should be a pretty nice weekend around Philadelphia so I encourage folks to get out and enjoy the nice weather and all the wonderful things we have around us.  

Have a great weekend and be safe!


Friday, September 8, 2017

Greetings from India: Week of September 8th

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

Dinner with representatives
from Al Salama Optometry College
I’m writing this abridged update from southwestern India where Dr. Melissa Vitek and I are representing Salus at Al Salama Optometry College in Kannur, India and the World Council of Optometry meeting in Hyderabad – the capital of Southern India - early next week. Dr. Vitek and I have been meeting with representatives from Al Salama to discuss how we can help them elevate the practice of optometry in India. We will also be lecturing to about 150 students and faculty of the college tomorrow about how Salus has influenced the practice of optometry both in the U.S. as well as worldwide. Additionally, we’ll be visiting their eye hospital to determine if it meets our criteria for potential externship opportunities in the future. Nonetheless, we’re excited about the potential collaboration that will stem from this visit.

Closer to home, the fourth annual Salus Scoop was a huge success last week. The event, which showcases most of our professional and social organizations for students, gives new and current students a chance to see what’s available at Salus during an evening filled with informative and fun activities. It looked like everyone, especially Dr. Trego, who spent some quality time in the dunk tank, had a great time!

I can’t write a Weekly Update without a reminder about the “Looking Out for Kids” charity fundraiser on November 11, 2017! Tickets are available now so please mark your calendars!

Finally, another major hurricane is bearing down on the southern part of the U.S., this time with Florida in the crosshairs. We know we have many students, alumni and colleagues from this part of the country and we will be reaching out to ensure everyone is safe. In the meantime, as the storm approaches, please keep everyone in the path of Hurricane Irma in your thoughts and prayers.

I hope everyone has a safe and restful weekend.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Labor Day History: Week of September 1st

It’s hard to believe it’s already the 1st of September and summer has pretty much passed us by. With the change in seasons comes an increased sense of energy and excitement on campus as students and faculty really dive into their programs. Some of our students are beginning externships, while others are returning to campus after experiencing what life is like in the “real world.” I remember when I was a student and felt this same level of excitement as I began my externships and then returned to campus after they were completed.

As I write this note, thousands of people in southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana are beginning the long road to recovery from Hurricane Harvey.  I know we have several students who are from that area who we have reached out to, as well as others, particularly our colleagues at the University of Houston College of Optometry.  Luckily, everyone we’ve talked to are okay.  The recovery from this storm will take years, with many of our colleagues affected.  Please join me in keeping all those folks in the Houston and surrounding areas in your thoughts and prayers.

Last week we held our bi-annual Faculty Development Day. Attendees took part in three sessions to enhance their presentation and relationship building skills, and to learn more about advancement opportunities within the University. The day culminated with a ribbon cutting ceremony for our latest renovation projects. Thanks to Drs. Lorraine Lombardi, Brooke Kruemmling and Janice Scharre for making this all happen. 

From now through October 9, the University’s D’Arrigo Family Gallery is showcasing artwork from three Philadelphia area mixed-media artists, Tom Herbert, Blanche Levitt Torphy and Elynne Rosenfeld.  If you haven’t had a chance to visit the gallery in the Hafter Center, I hope you can find the time soon as it will be well worth the visit!

The official invitations are out for our “Looking Out for Kids” charity fundraiser. This will be the eleventh year for the event, and it will be a special one.  As a reminder, we will be honoring Shelly Yanoff, the former Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth as the 2017 Lighthouse Award recipient.  The event will be on November 11 at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill.  I’m hoping for record attendance at this year’s event!  A special shout out to National Vision, Inc. who was generous enough to be our major corporate sponsor.    

As this weekend is Labor Day weekend, I thought a little history lesson might be in order:  According to the Department of Labor, the first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City.  Its origins stem from the desire of the Central Labor Union to create a holiday for workers.  It became a federal holiday in 1894. It was originally intended that the day would be filled with a street parade to allow the public to appreciate the work of the trade and labor organizations. After the parade, a festival was to be held to entertain local workers and their families. It is surmised that one of the reasons for choosing to celebrate this on the first Monday in September, and not on May 1, which is common in the rest of the world, was to add a holiday in the long gap between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. Today, Labor Day represents the unofficial end of summer.

So, as we prepare to reflect and remember those in southeast Texas and also to enjoy the last weekend in summer, please take some time to reflect on all the good things we have around us and the wonderful opportunities we all enjoy in being associated with professions that have the opportunity to give back to others.  Have a safe and restful weekend!