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!