Salus University Alumni Magazine Spring 2023

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Mission Possible: Humanitarian Trips are Life-Changing for Current Students


From President Mittelman

Integrating with Drexel will also benefit our faculty, offering the potential for significantly enhanced professional development and research support opportunities, access to state-of-the-art facilities and a chance to teach with the benefit of Drexel’s incredible technology infrastructure. The merger will bring together the strengths of both institutions in graduate health sciences, including Drexel’s medical, biomedical, public health, nursing and health professions, and our Optometry, Audiology, Biomedicine, Blindness and Low Vision Studies, Physician Assistant Studies, Occupational Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology and Orthotics and Prosthetics programs. We are confident there is no better partner to help us operationalize our mission: Advancing integrated healthcare through innovative education, research and clinical services.

As we move forward, we remain proud of our Salus legacy. Our agreement preserves the individual — and highly esteemed — Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) and George S. Osborne brands, as well as continued economic support of our academic programs. Similarly, previous donations and existing endowments to specific programs will be honored. All unrestricted funds received by PCO and Salus prior to the merger will be restricted solely for the benefit of Salus University and PCO’s legacy programs. Going forward, donors will have the option of restricting their gifts to Salus legacy programs of their choosing.

I hope you join me in supporting this exciting new chapter in the Salus legacy, and that you will continue to support our future students. Should you have any questions or wish to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me or with Jacquie Patterson, Vice President for Institutional Advancement. Thanks for your continued support.


As I work to keep the entire Salus community updated on our merger discussions with Drexel University, I want to continue to engage you in this exciting effort to improve our student experience through expanded educational programs, new clinical opportunities and potentially a wealth of options for research, collaboration and grant funding.
SHARE YOUR STORY Are you a Salus or PCO graduate with a story to share about your commitment to community? If so, please email INSIDE COVER From President Mittelman FEATURES 4 Role of the DICE, Part II: Innovation on a Global Scale 10 Setting the Standard: Two BLVS Programs Celebrate 30 Years of Excellence 14 Salus Serves: Humanitarian Trips Make a Difference in Underserved Communities 18 Dr. Sarah Appel: Passing Along a Passion for Generations of Low Vision Practitioners DEPARTMENTS 20 University News 25 The Voices of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 26 Alumni News 30 Salus University Alumni Association Awards 32 Where Are They Now? 34 In Memoriam In this issue ON THE COVER Salus University students from various programs traveled to Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and the Turks & Caicos Islands this academic year for humanitarian trips, providing care to underserved communities. 14 18 10 COVER PHOTOGRAPHY BY THE PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT STUDIES PROGRAM SPRING 2023 1

The PEI Podcast

The Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI) launched a new podcast led by Rebecca Blaha, AuD, Osborne College of Audiology (OCA) assistant professor and Aaron Roman, AuD, CCC-A, FAAA, OCA clinical educator. The podcast covers a variety of topics, both student and patient-focused, ranging from factors affecting the cost of hearing aids to auditory processing disorders. Its main purpose is education, but Drs. Blaha and Roman also hope to give listeners an inside look at the dynamic of the Audiology program at Salus. Transcriptions of each podcast are posted online, but future goals include incorporating video, with closed captioning for hearing-impaired viewers, as well as listener feedback.

To check out the PEI podcasts, visit or scan the QR code below.


Michael H. Mittelman, OD ’80, MPH, MBA, FAAO, FACHE President

Jacqueline Patterson, MPA Vice President, Institutional Advancement and Community Relations


Alexis R. Abate, MA Director, Communications


Anna Intartaglia Communications/Marketing Coordinator

Hope Daluisio Multimedia Specialist


Alexis R. Abate, Caren Cremen, Hope Daluisio, Anna Intartaglia, Michael H. Mittelman, Michael E. Morsch, Dr. Juliana Mosley-Williams, Savanna Hailu, Marcie Baker


Alexis R. Abate, Marcie Baker, Caren Cremen, Hope Daluisio, Nancy Douglas, Savanna Hailu, Bernadette McNulty, Michael E. Morsch, Jacqueline Patterson


Roni Lagin & Co.


Hope Daluisio, Ryan Brandenberg, PCO/Salus archives, Student and faculty submissions

Salus University Alumni Magazine is published bi-annually for alumni, staff, faculty, parents and friends. Please send comments, contributions and address changes to:

Office of Institutional Advancement Salus University

8360 Old York Road Elkins Park, PA 19027


Salus University by choice, declares and reaffirms its policy of complying with federal and state legislation and does not in any way discriminate in education programs, employment or in service to the public on the basis of race, color, creed or religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, physical or mental disabilities, or veteran status. In addition, the University complies with federal regulations issued under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Questions concerning any of the above policies should be addressed to: Maura Keenan, Affirmative Action Officer, Salus University, 8360 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027 at 215.780.1267.

Stay connected to Salus


Mike Guerriere, MMS ’19, may not have known it at the time, but he was at his most romantic when shoveling snow. At least that’s how his wife, Alexandra (Adolph-Gothier) Guerriere, MMS ’19, sees it. #salusuniversity #awesomealumni #salussoulmates #ValentinesDay

February 14, 2023

“The field of audiology is changing drastically and I believe Salus is ahead of the curve by incorporating a strong biomedical foundation into its curriculum.” #salusuniversity #ichosesalus #audiology

December 22, 2022

Vince Leone from Proteor stopped by to provide O&P students with toolboxes to get them started on their first day of upper limb prosthetics. #salusuniversity #orthotics #prosthetics #proteor #proteorusa #humanfirst

January 12, 2023

A cohort of Salus University faculty members recently authored an academic poster that was a winner at a recent Interprofessional Education Collaboration virtual poster fair showcase. #salusuniversity #interprofessionaleducation #research #healthsciences

January 11, 2023

To make up for last year’s cancellation, members from the PCO Class of 2024 invited the Class of 2023 to attend this year’s EyeBall, recently held at the Arts Ballroom in Philadelphia. #salusuniversity #studentlife #optometry #PCO

February 25, 2023

Introducing our new LGBTQ+ Safe Zone logo! Salus employees who complete one of the upcoming 2-hour “Safe Zone” trainings with Stan Kimer will be able to display the emblem in their office space to signify that they are a supportive and safe person for a member of the LGBTQ+ or allied community. Trainings are available virtually February 24 and April 18 - registration information will be emailed. #salusuniversity #safezone #ally #DEI

January 27, 2023

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Role of the DICE, Part II

Innovation on a Global Scale

Role of the DICE, Part II: Innovation on a Global Scale

DICE designs and implements profession-specific and interprofessional micro-credential and degree programs to provide a broad array of training. “Students worldwide advance their knowledge and skills through face-to-face, virtual (synchronous and asynchronous), and hybrid delivery models,” explained Melissa Vitek, OD ’95, FAAO, dean of DICE.

Dr. Vitek began her academic career as an instructor at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) in 2000, and took on a PCO administrative role in 2011 as the liaison for international and continuing education within the Office of Professional Studies and International Programs (PSIP), which was the name of the University-level department run by then-director, Melissa Padilla, MPH ’13

Between 2011 and 2015, Dr. Vitek worked with Janice Scharre, OD, MA, FAAO, (special program advisor, then provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Salus) to develop a one-year, full-time, on-campus delivery model for the Master of Science in Clinical Optometry (MSCO) degree with an Advanced Studies certificate program. The first offering was cohort-specific and included eight students from China. Students completing this program earned an MSCO degree and a certificate

in a specialized content area, such as contact lenses, binocular vision, vision therapy, and vision impairment and rehabilitation.

Dr. Vitek’s role was expanded and she became the department director in 2015, and was promoted to dean of DICE in 2021. During her transition, the department continued to diversify.

“Each subsequent cohort, from the original MSCO cohort, has been more diverse and now includes students from across the globe,” said Dr. Vitek. “DICE has educated students from 24 countries, including Bangladesh, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia,

Cuba, Finland, Ghana, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom.”

In addition to Salus being the only University in the U.S. to offer an MSCO degree and a Master of Science in Audiology (MSCA) degree, it’s the only University to offer a PhD in Biomedicine, which can be specialized in specific healthcare-related professional areas. The diversification of program offerings allowed DICE to diversify its student reach and has helped to expand the program’s impact across the globe.

“I am from Jordan and was looking for optometry programs in the United States. The clinical exposure the MSCO program offered gave me such great experience that I don’t think I would have been able to get anywhere else,” said Muhannad Faouri, MSCO ’22 “The program provides students with lots of hands-on experience they are missing from just a bachelor’s degree in optometry.”

SPRING 2023 5

Role of the DICE, Part II: Innovation on a Global Scale

DICE has also proven to be flexible and creative as evidenced by the way it responded to the COVID-related shutdown. For example, the department developed a hybrid delivery track, in addition to its face-to-face track, for the MSCO degree program. Lectures and exams are now virtual; students come to campus only for hands-on clinical training. This helped make the program more accessible for students around the world, and helped the program continue to expand.

“Similarly, DICE also reinvented how we offered our Continuing Education (CE) programs,” said Dr. Vitek. “Before COVID, the CE programs were largely in person but now many are delivered virtually. We also created a library of asynchronous lectures, some of which are offered free to Salus alums, and are accessible on the Salus University website.”

Their expanded efforts have proven successful, as the department hosted a virtual interprofessional CE in February, which drew quadruple the number of

participants from a similar session in 2019. The program represented eight professions taught at Salus and provided DICE with positive reinforcement of their innovation efforts.

DICE, in collaboration with Salus’ Office of Institutional Advancement, also hosted a CE by the Sea in 2020 where a group of PCO faculty provided a world-class program in Aruba. After a pandemic-induced hiatus, the two departments partnered to bring CE by the Sea back this year in Turks and Caicos. Building on the successes of both destination CE events, there are plans for an interprofessional CE by the Sea in 2024 along with an optometry-specific CE in the South.

Currently, DICE offers profession-specific, interprofessional, international and continuing education programs that include Audiology, Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS), Occupational Therapy, Orthotics and Prosthetics, Optometry, Speech-Language Pathology, and Biomedicine.

More recently, DICE assists in the design and provides administrative support for the University’s micro-credential offerings, which include BLVS, Optometry and interprofessional education collaborative (IPEC) content areas with a new Orthotics and Prosthetics offering on the horizon.

The mission of the University’s Department of International and Continuing Education (DICE) is to support professional advancement through innovative educational programs for students worldwide.
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Biomedicine Program Spotlight: 10 Years of Specialized Health Science Research

U.S., South Africa, China, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Canada, Iran

Optometry Audiology Occupational
STARTED IN 2012 Areas of studies include but are not limited to: States and countries students are from: 7 15 SALUS UNIVERSITY ALUMNI MAGAZINE 8
Celebrating 10 years
Therapy Physician Assistant Studies
Medicine Speech-Language Pathology

Biomedicine Program Spotlight: 10 Years of Specialized Health Science Research

Highlights of research projects:

Factors Influencing Retinal Venous Pressure


Exploring Occupational Therapy’s Role with Mothers who Breastfeed


Objective Assessment of Oculomotor Plasticity After Treatment of Symptomatic Convergence Insufficiency in Children


Frequency of Vision Problems After Concussion in Children

I would strongly recommend the PhD program at Salus University and encourage all potential applicants to consider joining Salus University for a supportive and enriching environment. I would advise them to pursue their passion in their

field of interest and enjoy every moment during the PhD journey.”
What we do is we teach people how to become independent researchers in whatever field they find themselves in.”
“ “ SPRING 2023 9

Setting the Standard: Two BLVS Programs Celebrate 30 Years of Excellence

The University’s programs in Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS) were first developed in 1983, making the then Pennsylvania College of Optometry — now Salus — the first institution in the country to offer four master’s degrees and certificates in blindness and low vision disciplines.


“You can learn to ’see’ with your ears, read with your hands, you can learn to travel even in the absence of vision. And, all those things we bring to the table.”

#salusuniversity #anniversary #lowvision #BLVS

January 4, 2023

SPRING 2023 11

Setting the Standard: Two BLVS Programs Celebrate 30 Years of Excellence

As the Orientation and Mobility (O&M) and Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) programs each celebrated their 30th anniversary this past year, it’s the perfect opportunity for the University to reflect on the department’s continued excellence, innovation, and service.

What started as small programs with only a few students have now trained students from all over the world, including 28 states across the country, Canada, France, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore.

One of those students — Suha Almusa, MS ’22 — came to Salus from Saudi Arabia. “There is a huge need for certified O&M professionals in my country, not only for adults but also for children who might face some challenges in walking and developmental delays because they cannot travel safely,” she said.

As a recent graduate of the program, it is believed Almusa is the only female certified O&M specialist in her home country, and as she transitions into professional practice, she is excited to share her knowledge and aims to establish an accredited O&M program in Saudi Arabia.

The program’s most significant accomplishments in the past three decades include:

• International reach

• Accreditation from the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)

• High exam pass rates according to the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP) reports

• Maintained relationships with external constituents (the BLVS department at Salus has been awarded $49.3 million in grants and contracts since its founding)

These achievements reflect the O&M and VRT programs’ long-standing commitment to producing competent and prepared professionals, ready to make an impact supporting children and adults with visual impairments.

“Our programs in BLVS have sustained steady growth and increased recognition both nationally and internationally,” said Fabiana Perla, MS ’93, EdD, COMS, CLVR, BLVS chair. “The programs prepare much-needed professionals to provide high-quality services for this traditionally underserved population. In addition, through a collaboration with the William Feinbloom Vision Rehabilitation Center and PCO, BLVS faculty and students provide rehabilitation services to patients, making comprehensive care and interprofessional practice a reality.”

The program’s impact is not only recognized by the University but is heavily emphasized by outside constituents. ”As a funder supporting many organizations working in low vision and blindness, I

Orientation and Mobility students practice navigating walking down a busy street using a white cane and other techniques.

Setting the Standard: Two BLVS Programs Celebrate 30 Years of Excellence

am very aware of the high regard in which Salus graduates are held,” said Susan Olivio, executive director and chief executive officer of the Lavelle Fund for the Blind, a charitable grant-making foundation dedicated primarily to supporting programs that help individuals who are blind or visually impaired live independent and productive lives.

“Salus is consistently mentioned as the standard by which other programs are measured.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “more than seven million Americans have vision impairment, including one million who are blind. Another 93 million U.S. adults are at risk for severe vision loss. These numbers are expected to increase because of the aging population and increase in chronic diseases.”

That unfortunately coincides with the national shortage of BLVS professionals. It is imperative that the Salus BLVS programs continue producing competent experts who will impact the future of the profession.

“The clients we serve get to choose the level of independence they are most comfortable with and I get to empower them with knowledge and skills and resources to help them achieve that goal,” said Lachelle Smith, MS ’03, CVRT, VRT program director. “I’m not just helping them, I’m helping them help themselves. That’s the enlightening, empowerment and encouragement I enjoy passing on to our students. And, then when you do that, you see them pass that information along to others — that’s the best feeling.”

Amidst the national shortage, the VRT and O&M programs have been innovators in many respects – for example, both programs started as in-person but were among the first to go virtual, long before the pandemic forced that issue for many universities. The hybrid learning format makes the program accessible to students all over the world, and has helped grow its international reach.

“We’ve always been positioned as a department looking ahead and seeing how we can respond to the ever-changing environment and landscape,” said Jamie Maffit, MS ’06, COMS, CLVT, O&M program director.

Innovation has allowed both the programs and department to grow to become as highly respected as they are today, educating graduate students and offering a variety of interprofessional services directly to patients and those in need. It is this combination of theory and practice that allows these programs to stay current and agile, and respond to trends and needs in the profession.

We’ve always been positioned as a department looking ahead and seeing how we can respond to the ever-changing environment and landscape.”
“ SPRING 2023 13

Salus Serves: Humanitarian Trips Make a Difference in Underserved Communities


CHAPTER went on its first post-pandemic trip to La Barca, Jalisco, Mexico. The trip included 15 students and two faculty members who had the opportunity to serve 2,278 patients over the span of six and a half days. Although humanitarian work has been part of the SOSH mission for more than 50 years, it was the first time SOSH teamed up with Oeuvre Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) Santa Cruz.

IN AUGUST, 17 PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT (PA) STUDIES STUDENTS, TWO OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY (OT) STUDENTS, TWO PA FACULTY MEMBERS, TWO NURSES, AND TWO NON-MEDICAL VOLUNTEERS traveled to Zacapa, Guatemala. The students, along with in-country interpreters and a local physical therapist, were able to offer basic healthcare and health education to 400 medical and therapy patients in five different communities. Partnering with Hearts in Motion, this was the perfect opportunity for students to experience first-hand medical care in an area with limited medical resources. Through this experience, students were able to gain a deeper understanding of the role social determinants of health play in healthcare accessibility and outcomes that may be difficult to appreciate in the classroom setting.


Salus Serves: Humanitarian Trips Make a Difference in Underserved Communities

PCO/SALUS STUDENTS FROM THE CLASS OF 2023 had the opportunity to go on a humanitarian trip and provide eye care to underserved communities in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Over a four-day period, the group saw more than 3,900 patients. Students performed refractions, dispensed medications, referred patients for surgical procedures, and provided prescription glasses and sunglasses to patients in need.

The PCO/Salus contingent connected with the Connecticut chapter of VOSH at its annual clinic and joined a team of approximately 50 members.

PCO SOSH students are wrapping up their time in Nicaragua, where they had the opportunity to examine and treat patients as well as personally connect with and help underserved patients. #salusuniversity #optometry #PCO #communityoutreach

January 13, 2023

IN AUGUST, FIVE SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY (SLP) STUDENTS JOINED OTHER SLP AND PHYSICAL THERAPY STUDENTS from across the United States in Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) to work with children and adults with a variety of communication and swallowing disorders. The trip, organized by Therapy Abroad and supported by TCI’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, was supervised by an interprofessional team of clinicians from the U.S., including Robert Serianni, MS, CCC-SLP, FNAP, Salus SLP chair and program director. Students conducted a community-based camp for several children and home visits for other community members on Grand Turk for one week.

SPRING 2023 15

A Decade of Distinction

The Occupational Therapy (OT) program celebrates 10 years of inspiring students to become caring and competent occupational therapists who respect the need for lifelong learning and who value the unique synergies possible in an inter-professional approach.


Allison Bicskei, MSOT ’16, OTR/L, LSVT

“Even when I was a student, fieldwork supervisors would ask what school we were from and want to know where we were getting this great education. I was very proud to say, ’I’m from Salus and it’s the best program out there.’ I still apply everything I learned there to this day.”

Andrew Welsh, MSOT ’20, OTR/L

“I believe that the professors at Salus prepared me for fieldwork and the fieldwork prepared me for my position that I’m currently in. I was able to transition easily after graduation due to the training and knowledge from Salus.”

Tavii Burrell, MSOT ’21, OTD ’23

“I feel prepared to step into any setting and be confident that I’ll be able to learn, adapt and be flexible to whatever my clients need. In the world of OT, you have to know when to be creative and go with the flow, so I definitely feel prepared for that.”

Michael Krueger, MSOT ’15

“Everybody was just so kind, knowledgeable and genuinely wanted to see us succeed. They molded their students to be professional, responsible and dedicated additions to their newly chosen profession.”

Chrystyna Colón, MSOT ’23

“One of the things that did draw me to Salus is that the faculty is working on its current research and we talked about that in my interview, things like emerging practices in OT.”

Olivia Nieves, ’24OT

“OT treats the person as a whole. So it includes work, play, as well as self-care, and not just focusing on mobility or cognitive skills. I chose Salus specifically because of the diverse patient population that it provides through its facilities.”

Mauli Chothani, MSOT ’20

“My experiences at Salus were so memorable. All of the professors in the department are so approachable and accommodating. I learned so much during the didactic coursework and I grew as a clinician.”

A Decade of Distinction


Erin Kenny, OD ’15, Resident ’16, FAAO, was a fourth-year student in the low vision rotation at PCO/Salus when she first met PCO/Salus professor Sarah Appel, OD ’79, Residency Low Vision Rehabilitation ’81, FAAO, Diplomate Low Vision Rehabilitation AAO

Because Dr. Appel was strictly clinical, students oftentimes didn’t meet her until their fourth year.

“It sounds very dramatic, but she changed my life. I thought I was going to be a contact lens specialist,” said Dr. Kenny, now chief of the William Feinbloom Vision Rehabilitation Center housed at The Eye Institute (TEI). “Then I did the low vision rotation with Dr. Appel, and she made me fall in love with low vision. She was so intelligent and approachable, but it was her passion that made me realize low vision was what I wanted to do.”

Looking back on her 40-plus years at the Feinbloom Center, Dr. Appel tells a similar story. And, now that she’s officially retired, effective May 2023, as

the director of the Pediatric Low Vision Services at TEI and co-director of the Special Populations Assessment and Rehabilitation Center (SPARC) program, which is now known as Disability Services, she’s had a chance to reflect on her passion to help those with visual impairments, which initially developed during her PCO residency in the early 1980s.

“It was a uniquely rewarding experience to work within an interdisciplinary rehabilitation team, to address the goals of adults and children with visual impairments and to practice holistic healthcare,” said Dr. Appel. “I think that passion was communicated to the (optometric) interns and residents by the staff, and it all gelled for me during my residency. I wanted

to share that with future generations of optometry students and residents.”

Richard Brilliant, OD ’76, FAAO, AAO Diplomate, department chief at the time, current professor emeritus, along with Randall Jose, OD, FAAO, William Feinbloom, OD, PhD, FAAO, and Audrey Smith, PhD, CLVT, COMS, MEd , professor emerita, helped to develop the interdisciplinary low vision rehabilitation program at PCO/Salus. Dr. Brilliant, who was widely respected within the field of Low Vision Rehabilitation, asked Dr. Appel if she would like to work at the Feinbloom Center.

Dr. Appel jumped at the opportunity. “It was a dream come true for me,” she said about being able to fulfill her innate passion.

There were a lot of exciting things happening then at PCO as the Feinbloom Center had been established in the late 1970s. Dr. William Feinbloom — who had donated his practice to PCO — came to see patients biweekly. In addition, Dr. Jose was the clinic

Dr. Sarah Appel: Passing Along a Passion for Generations of Low Vision Practitioners SALUS UNIVERSITY ALUMNI MAGAZINE 18

Dr. Sarah Appel: Passing Along a Passion for Generations of Low Vision Practitioners

chief when Dr. Appel was an intern. He believed that clinical low vision should be an interdisciplinary model of practice included not only with optometry, but with social work, orientation and mobility and vision rehabilitation therapy.

“I was proud to be part of the group that worked to bring Dr. Jose’s vision to the Feinbloom Center,” said Dr. Appel. “We were a passionate group of people who were dedicated to teaching and to helping people with low vision achieve their life goals. We also had the opportunity to work with and learn from Dr. Feinbloom, who was responsible for developing the low vision devices that changed the lives of so many people. Dr. Feinbloom was a brilliant doctor and a remarkable man. It was a wonderful time and I was so lucky to be a part of it.”

Another source of pride for Dr. Appel is that she, along with Marcy Graboyes, ACSW, LSW, coordinator of social services at the Feinbloom Center, and Elise Ciner, OD, FAAO, PCO/Salus professor, developed SPARC at the Feinbloom


From that sprang the Pediatric Low Vision Satellite Program that enabled Dr. Appel and Graboyes, low vision interns and residents to provide low vision services to students with visual impairments at schools throughout the Greater Philadelphia region.

Generations of low vision specialists have since benefitted from Dr. Appel’s dedication.“She has touched and changed so many lives, not only from a patient perspective but with the many students she’s educated in the low vision world,” said Dr. Kenny. “So many of her students and residents are now leaders in the field of low vision rehabilitation. They are chiefs all across the U.S., they’re a part of major low vision

rehabilitation programs, and they’re directors of programs.”


Dr. Appel considers her 40-plus-year career a labor of love and said receiving the Presidential Medal means a great deal to her. #salusuniversity #recognition #optometry #presidentialawards

October 5, 2021

SPRING 2023 19

University News



Salus University announced the following new hires and appointments:

Maura Golebiowski, assistant director of Admissions

Sediah Kelty, director of Patient Care Services, The Eye Institute

Chaunte Butts, supervisor, The Eye Institute (Chestnut Hill)

Jacqueline Magnarelli, IRB/IACUC administrator, Biomedicine program

Gerard O’Sullivan, PhD, interim provost

Three New Board of Trustees Members

Cradle for Hope

The Learning Resource Center hosted a “Cradle of Hope” event, in which donations for housing/support services were collected for single mothers and their children in the Philadelphia area.

Dean’s Winterfest Made a Comeback

Recreational Sports Also Made a Comeback

Salus University and the Hafter Student Community Center have brought back recreational sports after a brief hiatus during the pandemic. Opportunities currently include a walking club, running club, basketball (co-ed threeon-three and five-on-five), volleyball and pickleball through a partnership with Cheltenham Township.

Winning IPEC Poster

Salus University recently welcomed Eskedar Getahun, Daniel Liberman and William McCune to the Board of Trustees.

After taking a hiatus since the start of the pandemic, Dean’s Winterfest once again brought Salus students and the community together after the holidays for festive fun and face-to-face activities.

A cohort of Salus University faculty members authored an academic poster that was a highlighted winner at a recent Interprofessional Education Collaboration (IPEC) virtual poster fair showcase. READ MORE AT SALUS.EDU/IPECPOSTER


SEPCHE Honors Conference

Salus University hosted a gathering for honors students, to present their honors projects, from fellow Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education (SEPCHE) undergraduate institutions.

Pet Therapy

Program Updates

PCO World Pennsylvania College of Optometry


PCO, in conjunction with the Department of International and Continuing Education (DICE), launched its first Ophthalmic Lasers for the Anterior Segment CE workshop. Lectures were delivered asynchronously and a two-day long hands-on workshop was included.


THE PULSE College of Health Sciences, Education and Rehabilitation

Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS)


The Learning Resource Center welcomed therapy dogs to campus for the bi-annual pet therapy event. Students stopped by to pet the furry friends and destress before finals.

Accepted Students Day

Salus University’s Audiology, Optometry, Speech-Language Pathology, Physician Assistant Studies and Orthotics & Prosthetics programs all hosted accepted student day this Spring. Students had the opportunity to visit the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania campus, tour the facilities, meet faculty, and interact with their prospective classmates. Accepted students day was first offered for Optometry students last year, but has since expanded.

After a pandemic-induced hiatus, DICE and Institutional Advancement partnered to bring Continuing Education (CE) by the Sea back this year in Turks and Caicos.


Osborne College of Audiology


The University’s Osborne College of Audiology (OCA) recently developed a new partnership with the University of Lahore (UoL), Pakistan as a feeder for the Master of Science in Clinical Audiology (MSCA) program. This will open eight to 10 additional seats with clinical site placements at UoL in the hybrid MSCA program.

Orientation & Mobility (O&M) students came to the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania campus to work with guide dogs. Students experienced walking with a guide dog and gained the necessary skills to become O&M specialists.

Occupational Therapy (OT)


Anna Grasso, MS, OTD, OTR/L, CAPS, ECHM, associate professor in the OT program, was recently accepted into the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Academic Leadership Institute.


SPRING 2023 21

New Clinical Trial Treating Congenital Blindness Through Gene Therapy

PhD, Hafter Family Chair in Pharmacology and PCO/Salus professor, participated in an important research study on gene therapy and its effectiveness in treating a rare form of congenital GUCY2D blindness. The most recent part of the study was published in October in iScience, the National Library of Medicine within the National Center for Biotechnology Information and SciTechDaily.

The study, led by the late Dr. Samuel Jacobson of the University of Pennsylvania, involved researchers from an array of academic institutions including the University of Pennsylvania, Salus University, Thomas Jefferson University, University of Florida, and the company Atsena Therapeutics, Inc.

Dr. Dizhoor participated in the study with the assistance of his Salus University colleagues, Igor Peshenko, PhD, assistant professor, and Elena Olshevskaya, PhD, instructor.

“Salus University’s part in the project was to provide our strength: studying biochemistry and molecular biology and physiology of the retina, in particular, photoreceptors,” said Dr. Dizhoor. “Especially the GUCY2D gene, mutations in which were the cause of the disease. That is exactly what we are specializing in.”

The results of the clinical trial showed, as a result of gene therapy, blind patients gained back vision within several weeks. Although their vision was not perfect, sensitivity to dim light increased nearly 1000-fold. Dr. Dizhoor emphasized what a substantial step this is for gene therapy of the rare form of congenital blindness

at birth, GUCY2D Leber’s congenital amaurosis.

“We have multiple lines of research that we are currently pursuing that will eventually, hopefully, also have some clinical implications,” said Dr. Dizhoor. “Our place in science is to provide the basic knowledge in biochemistry and molecular biology that can create a foundation for future research in gene therapy.”

University News
Salus University’s part in the project was to provide our strength: studying biochemistry and molecular biology and physiology of the retina, in particular, photoreceptors.”
“ SPRING 2023 23

Speech-Language Pathology (SLP)



Orthotics and Prosthetics (O&P)

The SLP department volunteered at MANNA, which provides free, healthy meals for individuals who experience chronic illness.


The Speech-Language Institute (SLI) was awarded a $15,500 grant from the Eagles Autism Foundation. The grant will support the purchase of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices for clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and will be used in the SLI during therapy sessions for client and caregiver training. In addition, the SLI will be able to lend AAC devices to clients who need them. The funding provided by this grant will support the SLI’s mission to provide access to communication for clients with ASD.

Physician Assistant (PA) Studies



Salus’ chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) collected over 140 pairs of socks to donate to Socks for the Streets, an organization that gives new socks to the homeless and Veterans.

Salus PA students participated in the annual PA Olympics in Philadelphia. The PA Olympics offers PA programs in the greater Philadelphia area an opportunity to collectively fundraise and raise awareness for a local community-based organization. This year, Salus was one of 11 local PA programs fundraising to support the organization, The Block Gives Back.

O&P students had their first hands-on patient model interactions this past semester. They practiced measuring and fitting postoperative prosthetic interventions such as compression garments and rigid removable dressing/protectors.

Fond Farewells

Salus University thanks Lisa Lonie for her 31 years of service to the University. Lisa began working as the executive assistant to then President, Dr. Thomas Lewis (Emeritus President), in 1991 and also served Salus’ current President, Dr. Michael Mittelman.

In her years of service, Lonie wore many hats and provided support in a variety of ways as the University expanded.

University News

The Voices of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion


“For the past year, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and the DEI Committee has worked to implement institution-wide training grounded in the University’s adopted DEI framework of cultural humility. Training was offered for the board of trustees, administration, faculty, and staff. Students receive training annually during New Student Orientation, which I have been doing since 2019. The trainings and presentations offered through the DEI Speaks! and DEI Educates! series sought to illuminate differences in cultural perspectives, bridge areas of interconnectedness, foster appreciation and respect, for the purposes of making members of our community feel included. It is my hope that our interactions with each other and the patients, clients and students we serve are intentionally relational based on the tenets of cultural humility, where belonging is the desired outcome.”

DEI Trainings



Dr. Strayhorn is one of the most prolific and influential contemporary scholars in the fields of higher education, psychology, and the academic study of diversity,

equity, inclusion, and belonging. His training in early January centered around the Sense of Belonging.

Belonging, with peers, in the classroom, or on campus, is a critical dimension of success at college. It can affect a student’s degree of academic adjustment, achievement, aspirations, or even whether a student stays in school. Dr. Strayhorn explored how belonging differs based on students’ social identities, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or the conditions they encounter on campus. In education, there are particular needs that must be met in order to feel fulfilled and connected to our work, including the experience of mattering, having your feelings cared about, accepted, respected and valued.



Kimer is a nationally recognized consul tant and speaker on all areas of workplace diversity with a deep expertise in LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) diversity. His training, offered in February and April, focused on being an ally and supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

Those who attended the training received a “Safe Zone/Safe Space” emblem to display to show their outward support for LGBTQ+ people. The training

taught participants basic terms and definitions, history of LGBTQ+ culture and civil rights, issues often faced by LGBTQ+ people, the complex and ongoing process of coming out, how to best support people coming out to you and respectful communications with LGBTQ+ people.


DEI SPEAKS! REFRAMING DISABILITY; UNDERSTANDING ACCESS AND SUCCESS THROUGH THE LENS OF THE UNSEEN Dr. Singley currently serves as the director of Disability and Access at Ursinus College and has been working in disability and access services in multiple liberal arts colleges since 2006. She uses the social model lens of understanding disability and access to inform communities about those aspects. While much of Dr. Singley’s work focuses on facilitating accommodations for students under the American with Disabilities Amendments Act, they work strategically and intentionally to provide resources, education, and support for all stakeholders to think proactively about infusing equitable practices and design across the college environment.

Their training engaged participants in a conversation about the use of the social model of disability to dismantle barriers that exist for students in higher education, particularly barriers that impede access and success of students with invisible or non-apparent disability related impacts, as well as equitable strategies and supports to use in daily practices.

SPRING 2023 25
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Alumni News


As my tenure as the current president of the Salus Alumni Association Board comes to a close over the next few months, I am reflecting upon some of our progress over this past year. Personally, I have reconnected with the alpha/omega of my student trajectory at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University. More specifically, I’ve seen the full fruition of the three-legged stool model in my own life. Through the excellent academic preparation I have received at Salus, the opportunities for active engagement through our professional organizations and associated legislative challenges, and my current leadership of the Alumni Association Board, I’ve seen the full circle of opportunities available to all alumni. I encourage our graduates to be engaged and reap the benefits of more closely aligning with Salus, its goals and our professional organizations. Of course, consider joining our alumni board. To touch upon a few of our accomplishments over this past year:

• We have connected with our new students by welcoming them individually and as a group during orientation.

• We have awarded student grants to ease the burden of registration costs for conferences and humanitarian trips.

• We have recognized and bestowed awards for the personal and professional achievements of some of our outstanding graduates.

·• We continue Dr. Harry Kaplan’s legacy by offering our “Salus Cares” raffle tickets. There are only 500 tickets to be sold, so visit the Salus website if you have misplaced your forms.

·• We have been regrouping “post COVID” by offering face-to-face Alumni Board meetings, planning class reunions, and social events.

·• We have implemented the new bylaws, which have extended the size of our Alumni Board of Directors to increase the opportunities for more involvement and representation of all of the University’s Colleges.

Yet, there is more to be done, and this is just laying the groundwork; we invite you to get involved and help the next generation of our colleagues. In closing, the Alumni Board has allowed me to reconnect with former friends and develop new friendships with another generation of colleagues from our expanding colleges. It has been a gratifying experience. I thank my fellow Alumni Board members for their hard work and my colleagues for their support.

In July, we will welcome our president-elect — Zac Saunders, MSOT ’17, into his new position as president. As a student, Zac received the Unsung Hero & Spirit of Salus Award and the Salus travel grant. He also received the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association student scholarship. He started his occupational therapy career at Kessler Rehabilitation Center after graduating magna cum laude and continues there as the student fieldwork coordinator. In 2021, he completed his certification in manual therapy (COMT). Zac has shown his commitment to Salus University throughout his time here and continues that tradition as he takes over the role of president of the Salus Alumni Association Board. Carpe Diem. Fond regards,

Bob Owens, OD ’80, FAAO

Class Notes


Wilbert Stock, Jr., OD ’71, sold his medical model optometric practice and retired in June 2019 after 48 years. Dr. Stock has been married to his wife, Sarah Belle Stock (Winslow), for 46 years and is enjoying time with his two children, Tyson and Suzanne.

Kenneth Burke, OD ’73, was the chief optometrist at the Quantico Naval Hospital between 1973 and 1976. He was in private practice behavioral optometry for 46 years and retired in August 2022, selling his practice to a husband and wife who both graduated from PCO. Dr. Burke has been married to his wife Anne for 51 years. Together, they have 14 grandchildren. Dr. Burke has fond memories of his trip to Cap-Haïtien in Haiti with the Student Optometric Service to Humanity (SOSH) in 1973.


Lisa Johnson, OD ’85, chairperson of the DC Board of Optometry, shares the exciting news that she and two other prominent African American female graduates of PCO attended the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO) 2022 Annual Meeting: Lisa Wallace-Davis, OD ’92, president, Virginia Board of Optometry and Mesheca C. Bunyon, OD ’99, president, Maryland Board of Examiners in Optometry. Dr. Johnson states, “This is indicative of the University’s long legacy of commitment to diversity and the thoughtful development of leadership and growth of its students. Kudos to you, Dr. Mittelman, in your commitment to continuing this legacy. I deeply appreciate your efforts and that of your staff in creating a thriving environment for all.”

Mark Margolies, OD ’85, has been playing the guitar since he was 13 years old and released his debut contemporary blues music CD, “Can’t You See,” in

March 2022. His album has been played on Sirius Radio and other stations worldwide. Dr. Margolies regularly performs with his band in the Philadelphia area. He also still maintains a private practice in Levittown, Pennsylvania.

Thomas Landry, OD ’87, and Judy Jeffers, OD ’89, are optometrists at Corning Specialty Eye Care and Bath Specialty Eye Care with clinical interests in glaucoma, primary eye care, and pediatric eye care. They are currently welcoming new patients.

Elisa Beth Haransky-Beck, OD ’87, will release a book in 2023 called Enlivening Consciousness: Deepening Your Journey Through Vision, Movement, Nutrition, Nature and Spirit, Balboa Press, 2023. She offers individual virtual consulting online and courses live online.

Alan Toler, OD ’88, and his wife, Cheryl, were delighted to pin Chinook helicopter pilot wings on his son Garrett at his Fort Rucker, Alabama graduation in April 2022. After graduation, Garrett gave his parents a ride in a Vietnam Huey —

SPRING 2023 27

Class Notes

1,500 feet up, with no doors and only a lap belt. Forty years ago, Dr. Toler sat in the exact seat during field exercises at ROTC Advance Camp in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


Marilyn Foran, OD ’92, was welcomed as a new provider at Endicott Specialty Eye Care and has clinical interests in comprehensive eye exams, corneal and external disease, and dry eyes. Dr. Foran is currently welcoming new patients.

Richard Malara, OD ’92, is the immediate past president of the Central New York Optometric Society CNYOS (2018-2022) and was named New York State Optometric Association (NYSOA) Optometrist of the Year.

Michael Acker, II, OD ’96, owns a premiere black-owned optometry practice, Acker Optique, one of the only providers

in America certified to carry the Black Panther capsule collection designed by African-based eyewear company, Bôhten.

Shawn Thomas, OD ’98, founded Eastern Eye Care and has joined the growing U.S. Eye network of premium eye care practices. Dr. Thomas has been practicing for more than two decades and specializes in caring for patients with advanced ocular diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, dry eye, and cornea conditions. He is committed to continuing education and advancing the eye care industry, having published numerous journal articles on refractive surgery and lectured at conferences across the U.S. and internationally.


Archima Major, OD ’03, FAAO, received a citation from Philadelphia’s City

Council for rendering outstanding eye care services and enrichment to the City of Philadelphia and the African diaspora via medical mission initiatives. She was also featured in the Philadelphia Sun Magazine for “Saving Lives Through the Eyes.”

Melissa Kluesner, MMS ’09, became a Diplomate of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and a Certified Lifestyle Medicine Professional through the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine.

Teresa Vigario, OD ’09, has been married for 11 years and has two beautiful daughters. Dr. Vigario enjoys working in a multidisciplinary group focused on ocular disease, and is currently working on an up-and-coming Artificial Intelligence retinal imaging project to help save sight worldwide.



Anthony M. Firetto, MMS ’15, will graduate in the first cohort from the University of Pittsburgh’s Doctorate of Physician Assistant Studies (DPAS) program this April. His focus in the program is healthcare administration with intentions to expand his knowledge of implementation, practice-based learning, and improvement science. He hopes to use his leadership to turn his unique experiences and challenges into meaningful change for the PA profession, his community, and most importantly the patients and students he serves.

Jaclyn Coyner, OD ’18, joined Levin Eye Care in Anne Arundel County, Maryland in November 2022.


Amanda Srinivasan, MMS, ’20, PA-C, has served patients as a Certified Physician Assistant with Regional Nephrology Associates since May 2021.

Jonathan Zobek, MEd ’22, will continue his education at Kean University taking psychology courses.

Alyssa Gasser, OD ’22, was welcomed to SightMD’s Expert Team in Pennsylvania. Dr. Gasser is an active member of

Class Notes

the American Optometric Association and the Pennsylvania Optometric Association.

Sarah Gloninger, MSOT ’19, currently works at Penn Medicine at Home with Jackie Lannon, MSOT ’19. They recently presented at the International Virtual Reality Healthcare Global Symposium on the “Use of VR in the Home Health Setting to Improve Functional Performance for Community Dwelling Adults.”

Former Faculty Board

Louis J, Catania, OD ’69, FAAO, DSc, PCO/Salus adjunct professor, published the third and newest edition of “Catania’s Primary Care of the Anterior Segment” textbook.

Preserving the Past: Salus Alumni

Memory Project

Salus University is excited to announce its collaboration with Publishing Concepts, Inc. (PCI) for the Oral History Project. This initiative aims to capture and preserve the stories of individuals who have contributed to the strong history of Salus University. Visit our website to learn more about the project and how you can get involved here: SPRING 2023 29

2023 Alumni Association Awardees


Amanda Marchegiani, AuD ’10


The University’s Alumni Association annually recognizes the professional contributions and achievements of graduates and friends of the institution. Awardees are nominated by alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of Salus for bringing honor and prestige to the University.

This award is presented to an alumnus/ alumna of the University’s George S. Osborne College of Audiology (OCA) or the PCO School of Audiology who has distinguished themselves through extraordinary service and contributions to the profession of audiology.


This award is presented to an alumnus/ alumna of the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Salus who has distinguished themselves through extraordinary service and contributions to the field of blindness and low vision education and rehabilitation.

Lindsay M. Lee, MEd ’19

Victoria Wong, MMS ’16


This award is presented to an alumnus/ alumna of the University’s Physician Assistant program who has distinguished themselves through extraordinary service and contributions to the physician assistant profession.

2023 Alumni Association Awardees

Mark Boas, OD ’86


This award is presented to an alumnus/ alumna of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry who has distinguished themselves through extraordinary service and contributions.

Carlene Dumas, MS ’18


This award is presented to an alumnus/ alumna of the University’s SpeechLanguage Pathology (SLP) program who has distinguished themselves through extraordinary service and contributions to the SLP profession.

David A. Evans III, OD ’83


This award is presented as special recognition of an individual’s or organization’s contribution to Salus, their profession or their community.

Bernard Mallinger, OD ’52


This award is presented as special recognition of an individual’s or organization’s contribution to Salus University, their profession or their community.

David W. Friess, OD ’02, Resident ’03, FAAO


This award is presented to a person or organization, preferably of national standing, who (which) has made a recent significant contribution to Salus University or to their profession.

SPRING 2023 31

Where Are They Now?

ATLANTA, GEORGIA Nwamaka Ngoddy, OD ’12

After graduating from PCO/Salus and completing an Ocular Disease residency, Dr. Ngoddy began her practice EyeServe in a retail setting. It was there that she tried on frames and discovered that she couldn’t find any that fit quite right. She consulted with opticians to see if there were any major “pain points” they noted when fitting. What Dr. Ngoddy identified was that quite a few African-American patients had issues with the temple length of the frames being too short; that the bridge sizes were ill-fitting; and that the lens sizes were too small, not wide enough to fit across the entire face. With that information, she decided it was time to develop and create frames with those three features in mind. And, Anwuli Eyewear was born. READ


Where Are They Now?

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS Michael Santucci, AuD ’09

Dr. Santucci’s company, Sensaphonics, was established in 1985, and offers state-of-the-art, personalized and custom-fitted in-ear monitors (IEMs) and musician earplugs for some of the biggest names in the musical industry, as well as for astronauts and construction workers. He was also recently named the 2023 Samuel F. Lybarger Industry Award recipient by the American Academy of Audiology. The award is given to an individual who has made important contributions to research, engineering or other technical achievements within the field of audiology.



Gawron currently works at Timothy School in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, a private school for students from kindergarten to age 21 with an autism diagnosis. She has a wide range of students who are considered to have complex communication needs. She is currently supervising her second graduate student — the first one was from Salus and the current one is from La Salle University — and she’d like to do more of that in the future. “I really enjoy sharing my experience with someone who is new,” said Gawron. “It’s fun to have the tables turned, to think back to what my experience was as a grad student and to share my passion for our profession.”



After graduating from Salus University, Fried pursued a certification in hand therapy, which she uses in her current role as director of hand therapy at Atlantic Physical Therapy (APT). At APT, Fried started a hand-specific program around five years ago and has since expanded to five hand therapy clinics. She also co-founded an upper extremity amputation-specific clinic. She continues to give back to Salus as a current adjunct lab assistant for the OT program.


SPRING 2023 33

In Memoriam


Arthur C. Bittner, OD ’51, passed away on February 7, 2023 at the age of 98. He was the husband of the late Mary Winschel Bittner, with whom he shared a 67-year marriage. He is survived by his seven children: Terri Ballard (Bill); Lorraine Bittner (Bernard MacDonagh); David Bittner; Gregory Bittner, OD ’81, (Denise); Mary Lou Mitsch (Richard); Callie Bartos (Scott); and Bob Bittner (Kim). Also surviving Dr. Bittner are his 16 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Dr. Bittner was born on August 21, 1924 in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, son of Edward A. Bittner and Caroline (Kessler) Bittner. He grew up on Middle Road in Glenshaw where he attended St. Mary’s grade school. He graduated from Etna High School and later Allegheny College; he then attended PCO and started his optometric practice which grew to include his son and grandchildren and became the present-day Bittner Vision Associates. Dr. Bittner was the last surviving charter member of the Etna Shaler Rotary Club where he served for more than 50 years alongside his father, brothers, and son.

Wayne M. Gardner, OD ’53, passed away on August 16,

2022 at the age of 92. He was the husband of Nancy Gardner; together they shared 12 years of marriage.

Dr. Gardner was preceded in death by his first wife, Cathy Gardner; together they shared 43 years of marriage.

Born November 21, 1929 in York, he was the son of the late Maurice and Pansy (Collins) Gardner. Dr. Gardner was an optometrist on Baltimore Street in Hanover for 49 years and was a member of Mount Carmel Lutheran Church, Hanover. In addition to his wife Nancy, Wayne is survived by his sons, David Gardner and wife Rhonda, York, and Craig Gardner and wife Nga, Seven Valleys; grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his sister, Nina Coyne.

Sheldon L. Leibowitz, OD ’53, MPH, FAAO, passed away on July 18, 2021, at the age of 91. He is survived by his wife Janet Leibowitz (nee Shapiro); children Fran Leibowitz (Debbie), Sam Leibowitz (Martha), and Amie Smith (Alan); sister Iris Pevner, eight grandchildren; and two great-grandsons. Dr. Leibowitz was a native of Baltimore and graduate from Baltimore City College High School. He earned his Doctor of Optometry at PCO and then served in the Korean War. He practiced Optometry for 60 years, was active in the local and national Optometric Associations, was the director of the Maryland Optometric Center,

and in 1973 was honored as Maryland Optometrist of the Year. He earned additional degrees at the University of Baltimore, Loyola College, and John Hopkins University to better serve his patients and enhance his administrative skills. He served on the board of multiple professional, social, and charitable organizations. For many decades he served on the board of directors of the Regal Bank (now WestBanco Bank), which was co-founded by his father Samuel. He was devoted to his wife Janet for 68 years and cherished time spent with grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Gabriel Merchan-De Mendoza, OD ’55, passed away in the fall of 2022. In 1966, Universidad De La Salle in Bogotá founded the first South American School of Optometry and Dr. Merchan-De Mendoza joined six months later as part of the faculty to teach theoretical optometry to second-semester students. Eventually, he taught clinical proceedings, mechanical optics, visual graphic analysis, theoretical optometry, contact lenses, theory and practice, statistics and was the director of the optometric clinic. In 1975, he was appointed dean and stayed in that position for the next ten years. He ascended to the categories of full professor, distinguished professor, professor emeritus and honorary professor.


Richard J. Misage, OD ’62, passed away on September 12, 2022. He is survived by his wife Pat and four children — Lisette (Kerry), Scott (Lori), Jill (Mark) and Carolyn (Brian) as well as three brothers — Jim, Tom and Bob. He had six grandchildren, Dr. Misage grew up in a Slovak family with a tight group of extended friends in the steel town communities of Homestead and Munhall, Pennsylvania. He attended Duquesne and PCO and practiced as an optometrist for more than 35 years in Old Town, Alexandria.

Thomas B. Attea, Jr., OD ’65, passed away on October 14, 2022. Dr. Attea was one of America’s most award-winning copywriters and the founder of Heavy Creative, Inc. As executive creative director of a digital agency in SoHo, he won the Gold Mobius for writing the “Best B2B Internet Services Advertisement.” He has held executive positions in major agencies, including Young & Rubicam and the Interpublic Group. Dr. Attea has written copy for Grey Poupon, Dr. Pepper, Jello and other Kraft brands, Citibank, BristolMyers, Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Fuji, and other top brands. Dr. Attea attended Duquesne University and earned a Doctor of Optometry degree at PCO. After his arrival in New York, he studied composition


and orchestration at Juilliard. Dr. Attea is survived by his domestic partner, Sharman Wheatley, as well as his daughter, Lisa Attea Harris (son-in-law, David Harris) of NewYork Cith and his son, John Attea, (daughter-in-law, Brittany, and granddaughter, Peyton) of Las Vegas.


Martin D. Markowitz, OD ’71, passed away on November 6, 2022, at the age of 73. Dr. Markowitz was born Nov. 2, 1946, in Pittsburgh, and grew up in Garden City and Monroeville, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Gateway High School and went on to attend Ohio University and PCO. After graduating from optometry school, Dr. Markowitz served stateside as an optometrist for the United States Army. He then joined his father, the late Dr. Louis S. Markowitz, in his optometry practices in Greensburg and Indiana, Pennsylvania, where he spent the next 38 years. Dr. Markowitz is survived by his wife of 54 years. In addition to his father, Dr. Markowitz was preceded in death by his mother, Lillian Rosenblum Markowitz. In addition to Anita, Dr. Markowitz is survived by his two children, Craig and Pace (Michelle); two grandchildren; and siblings, Cindy (Jerry) Brodsky of Lyndhurst, Ohio, and Michael (Charlotte Paskman) Markowitz of Chalfant, Pennsylvania.

James C. Frangos, OD ’77, passed away on July 17, 2022, at the age of 76. He was born January 18, 1949 in Dover, New Hampshire, the son of Costas and Alexandra (Karanicolopoulos) Frangos. He went on to graduate from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Zoology before obtaining his doctorate from PCO in 1977. In 1984 he opened his own practice in Dover on Broadway, later moving to its current location on Portland Avenue in 1994. Every summer he also volunteered his time by providing eye exams to the Special Olympics. A lifelong member of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Dover, his Greek heritage was always very important to him. Members of his family include his wife of 38 years Peggy (Parkhurst) Frangos of Conway; three children Justin Hussey and his wife Julie of North Conway, Andrew Frangos, OD ’16, and his wife Jennifer of Boston and Lilly Lirette and her husband Adam of Dover; three grandchildren; his brother Dennis Frangos of Barrington and sister Paula Maskwa and her husband Paul of Somersworth.


David A. Evans, III, OD ’83, passed away on September 2, 2022, at the age of 64. Dr. Evans was born in Kingston, Pennsylvania on Dec. 20, 1957, and was the son of the late David A., Jr. and Evelyn Evans. Dr. Evans graduated

from Northwest High School, Wilkes University and PCO. He had an independent optometry practice in Nanticoke and was a partner in Family Vision Care in Kingston. He was a member of the Sweet Valley Church of Christ where he served as a former deacon, American Optometric Association and Pennsylvania Optometric Association and its board for many years leading up to his presidency in what he called “2020: The Year of the Optometrist.”

Dr. Evans is survived by his wife of 42 years, Dr. Gail Evans; children, Kyle Evans and his wife, Taylor; Brooke Evans; and Curtis Evans and his girlfriend, Rachel Vidumsky; siblings, Amy Boytin and her husband, Chuck; Darrell Evans, OD ’85, and his fiancée, Jackie Pascucci; Doug Evans and his wife, Lori; and Robyn Confalone and her husband, Jay; sister-inlaw, Connie Higgins and her husband, Dennis; 10 nieces and nephews, their partners and their children who were dear to his heart; and thousands of patients who he cared for over the past 38 years in his eyecare practice.


Florence Hafter passed away on June 17, 2022. Wife of the late Martin Hafter, OD ’49. Mother of Ronnie (Stanley) Rubin and Rob (Cindy Kaufman) Hafter. Grandmother of Joshua (Rachel Berger) Rubin and Cara and Becca Hafter. The

Hafter family’s generous contributions resulted in the creation of Salus University’s Hafter Student Community Center, the Hafter Electro-Diagnostic Service, the Hafter Electro-Physiology Laboratory, the Hafter Light and Laser Institute and the Hafter Student Endowment Fund.

Kenneth Newton, MS, CCC-SLP, retired faculty member and clinical educator in the Speech-Language Pathology program, recently passed away. He was a vital part of the department and greatly impacted the lives of the students, clients, faculty and staff. He will be greatly missed by the Salus community, his two sons, Lucas Finalle Newton and Jesse Finalle Newton; his brothers, Raymond Newton (Lynn), Patrick Newton Jr (Linda), Michael Newton (Roseann) and Robert Newton (Lora); his sister, Mary Ann Newton and many nieces and nephews.

In Memoriam
SPRING 2023 35

Orthotics and Prosthetics students participating in their “first pour.” This is the first time they get to mix plaster and pour it into molds that they will eventually use to design orthoses for their patients.

NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION U.S. POSTAGE PAID SOUTHEASTERN, PA PERMIT NO. 229 O ce of Institutional Advancement Salus University 8360 Old York Road Elkins Park, PA 19027-1516 ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED Save the Date for the 16th Annual The Switch House 1325 Beach Street Philadelphia, PA 19125 Saturday, November 11, 2023 6:30 P.M.
Charity Fundraiser Honoring Lighthouse Award Recipient: Susan C. Oleszewski, OD ’76, MA, FAAO

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