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Pennsylvania College of Optometry Awards Presidential Medals of Honor for Centennial Anniversary

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A century ago, the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) set out to be a leader in optometry. Now Salus University continues to be a leader in health science education, just like its founding College.

That’s why on Friday, April 26, 2019, 35 were awarded Presidential Medals of Honor to commemorate important milestones: 100 years of the founding of PCO and 10 years of the establishment of Salus University.

The new awardees join a total of 77 prominent individuals, 76 of whom were previously recognized in 1995, during the 75th anniversary of PCO, with the then PCO Presidential Medal of Honor.

The new recipients for the medals were nominated by the University’s Centennial Committee and President. Each recipient was chosen for their significant contributions to their profession and/or for their service to the institution.

“Our PCO Presidential Medal of Honor recipients are standing on the shoulders of those giants of optometry who have preceded them,” said Dr. Michael H. Mittelman, President of Salus University. “Just like their predecessors, they have forged a new path for the optometric profession that has had a profound effect on optometry and the way it is practiced today. We’re extremely proud to honor these exceptional professionals.”

The below recipients of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry Presidential Medals are all current or past faculty of PCO:

G. Richard Bennett, MS, OD ‘79, Resident ’80, FAAO, FNAP

Dr. Bennett graduated PCO in 1979 and completed his residency in Primary Care at TEI in 1980. He is currently the director of the Glaucoma Center of Excellence at TEI, a lecturer in Retinal Disease and Glaucoma, and professor of Optometry, as well as a past PCO Trustee. He was also an adjunct associate professor of Ophthalmology at Hahnemann Medical School of Medicine (now Drexel University School of Medicine). Dr. Bennett was the Eye Group Coordinator of the Nemours Health Clinic in Wilmington, Del., and maintains a private practice in Philadelphia. He is a Fellow of the AAO, and serves as a referee for the American Journal of Optometry and Physiological Optics and Journal of the American Optometric Association and is also a reviewer for Optometry and Clinical Vision Science. Dr. Bennett lectures extensively and is an active clinical researcher. He has authored or co-authored over 50 published articles and presented a number of his papers at conferences and symposiums. Currently, Dr. Bennett is a principal investigator of the Ocular Hypertensive Treatment Study (OHTS), a multi-center clinical glaucoma trial funded by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Bennett’s professional activities have included serving as president for the Pennsylvania Academy of Optometry (PAO); board member for the Philadelphia County Optometric Society; a member of the AOA and International Perimetric Society. He is the recipient of numerous awards including PCO Teacher of the Year; the Optometric Recognition Award five times from the AOA; the Distinguished Alumni Award from Clarion University; the Alfred I. DuPont Physician of the Year Award; and Distingusihed Practitioner from the National Academy of Practice in Optometry of the National Academies of Practice.

Bernard H. Blaustein, OD ’67, FAAO

Dr. Blaustein was part of the PCO and Salus community for more than 50 years, first as a student and then in numerous capacities, including associate professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and director of the Residency Programs. Dr. Blaustein retired in 2018 as professor emeritus. He was also in private practice for over 33 years and served the nation’s veterans at the VA Medical Center in Coatesville, Pa. as chief of Optometry Services for more than 40 years. Dr. Blaustein edited two textbooks: Ocular Manifestations of Neurologic Disease and Ocular Manifestations of Systemic Disease. Additionally, he authored over 30 professional articles and chapters in various optometric texts, presented over 50 papers at various scholarly conferences, and has delivered over 150 lectures throughout the United States and in many European and Asian countries. Dr. Blaustein is a Fellow of the AAO and a member of the AOA.

Richard Brilliant, OD ’76, FAAO

Dr. Brilliant is recognized as one of the world’s foremost low vision specialists. He completed a Low Vision residency under Dr. Randall Jose at the Center for the Blind/PCO in 1977. Dr. Brilliant went on to complete a two-year fellowship in Low Vision, under Dr. William Feinbloom at the William Feinbloom Center housed within TEI. He served as chief of the Feinbloom Vision Rehabilitation Center for 10 years and is now the senior low vision clinician at the Feinbloom Center. He also serves as director of the Vision Rehabilitation Center at the Moore Eye Institute at both Springfield and Abington Hospitals. Dr. Brilliant is a PCO professor and adjunct professor at the Waterloo College of Optometry in Canada. He is a Fellow of the AAO and is a diplomate in low vision. He is involved in the design and development of many low vision devices and has also been involved in the clinical investigations of many low vision devices/lenses for low vision manufacturers. He lectures in numerous national and international meetings and has published articles related to low vision rehabilitation. Dr. Brilliant is the editor of a textbook (20 chapters, 409 pages) on low vision rehabilitation, Essentials of Low Vision Practice, designed for clinical optometrists and ophthalmologists. He has also been appointed to the Medical Advisory Board of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the center for Devices and Radiological Health.

James M. Caldwell, OD ‘89, Resident ‘90, FAAO, EdM

Dr. Caldwell has held a number of key positions at PCO and Salus University. Currently the dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Caldwell has previously served as the associate vice president of Academic Affairs and the director of Admissions. He was a contributing member of the institutional committee that obtained the approval of Salus University from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. As a PCO clinical educator, Dr. Caldwell taught in the primary care modules of TEI, the clinical procedures lab, and several international and continuing education programs. He is a Fellow of the AAO, a long-standing member of the POA and AOA, and holds a degree in Higher Education Administration.

Edward Deglin, MD

Dr. Deglin is an ophthalmologist with a specialty in retinal and vitreous diseases and surgery. Dr. Deglin completed his residency at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington D.C. He went on to complete a NIH Special Fellowship and earn his Master of Science degree in Ophthalmology with a thesis in Retinal Hemodynamics in Diabetes Mellitus at Georgetown University Medical Center, and a Retina Fellowship at Wills Eye Hospital. He has been in private practice in Philadelphia and its suburbs for more than 30 years. Dr. Deglin currently holds a faculty position at the University of Pennsylvania in addition to PCO, where he has been a professor since 1980. He additionally sees patients and precepts students once a week at TEI.

Kelly A. Malloy, OD ‘96, Resident ‘97, FAAO

Dr. Malloy is an associate professor at PCO and chief of the Neuro-Ophthalmic Disease at TEI. She is also an instructor of Head and Neck Anatomy, Neuroanatomy, and Neuro-Ophthalmic Disease Courses at PCO. Dr. Malloy is a Fellow of AAO and is currently the only diplomate in neuro-ophthalmic disorders. She is a founding officer of the AAO Neuro-Ophthalmic Disorders Special Interest Group, and is its Educational Programs sub-chair. Dr. Malloy has multiple publications and lectures extensively both nationally and internationally. She co-created the first and only optometric Neuro-Ophthalmic Disease residency at TEI in order to formally train more optometrists in this important clinical specialty.

Jeffrey Nyman, OD, FAAO

Dr. Nyman joined PCO’s faculty in 1977. He currently is an associate professor and director of Emergency Services at TEI. He also received the Annual Faculty Award from his PCO peers. He has published numerous articles and textbook chapters in optometric literature, and he has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on topics related to vision, eye disease and public health. Dr. Nyman is a Fellow of the AAO as well as a member of the POA and AOA. He is a recipient of the Annual Faculty Award and Clinical Sciences Educator of the Year Award, both from PCO. He also was recognized as Educator of the Year at PCO.

Susan Oleszewski, OD ’76, Resident ’78, MA, FAAO

Dr. Oleszewski’s roles in her four decade career at PCO and Salus included classroom and clinical educator, vice president for Patient Care Services, where she shepherded the $11-million dollar renovation of TEI; chief of staff for the University and vice-president of Institutional Advancement and Community Relations. She founded the Looking Out for Kids (LOFK) initiative and was central to raising over $600,000 to support vision care services and eyeglasses for economically disadvantaged children in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. Dr. Oleszewski received Salus University Alumni Association’s Special Recognition Award in 2018.

Carlo Pelino, OD ’94, FAAO

Dr. Pelino is chief of TEI’s Chestnut Hill satellite location and has a referral retinal practice. He lectures extensively in his areas of interest such as internal and external ocular diseases in both domestic and international programs. Dr. Pelino is one of the chief optometric advisors to WebMD as well as an advisor to several ophthalmic industry companies. He has conducted research in the area of visual function and writes regularly in ophthalmic literature. Dr. Pelino is active in the Salus community, serving on several University-wide committees and is a board member of the AAO’s Retina Special Interest Group (SIG) as well as a member of the AOA. Dr. Pelino is a Fellow of the AAO and his training had an emphasis on medical and surgical management of vitreo-retinal diseases.

Joel Silbert, OD ’73, FAAO

Dr. Silbert is a nationally recognized expert in contact lens. He joined PCO’s faculty in 1974. Currently, he serves as a professor, director of Contact Lens Programs and chief of the Cornea and Specialty Contact Lens Service at TEI, as well as chairman of the Credential Committee at TEI. He has been a clinical mentor and educator to generations of students as well as residents in primary care and contact lenses. He also maintains a private practice in N.J. Active in national and international continuing education, as well as in clinical research, he served as a principal investigator at PCO for the CLEK Study on keratoconus, a national multi-center study funded by the NIH. He has also conducted many clinical investigations for contact lens manufacturers. Dr. Silbert has written numerous articles, ophthalmic textbook chapters, served as associate clinical editor for the Review of Optometry and Contact Lens Forum, and authored two editions of Anterior Segment Complications of Contact Lens Wear, a reference textbook for practitioners. Dr. Silbert has been honored by the AOA Cornea & Contact Lens Section with the 2011 Achievement Award; the Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators with the Lester E. Janoff Memorial Award for Excellence in Contact Lens Education, Publication and Research; the NJSOP; and PCO for Faculty Member of the Year. He is a diplomate in the Cornea, Contact Lens, and Refractive Technology Section of the AAO, and has served on the executive committee of that section and is past chair of the Association of Contact Lens Educators (AOCLE). His latest chapter in a peer-reviewed 2019 publication will be devoted to new advances in clinical diagnosis and management of dry eye disease, in Elsevier's Advances in Ophthalmology and Optometry.

Satya Verma, OD '75, FAAO

Dr. Verma had an optometric degree from India and completed some graduate work in the U.S. when he came to PCO to join the faculty in 1971; he subsequently also became a student pursuing his Doctor of Optometry degree. Forty-seven years later, Dr. Verma, an associate professor and director of the PCO Externship Program, now holds the distinction of being among the longest-serving PCO and Salus employee. Among his many accomplishments at PCO and Salus is launching the low-vision clinic mobile clinic to serve the visual needs of home-bound patients. Dr. Verma has held numerous local, state and national leadership positions including serving as the 100th president of the POA. It was during his tenure that the Pennsylvania Therapeutic Law was passed. He also formerly held positions as the secretary of the Indian Optometric Association; chair of Vision Care Section of APHA, chair of National Council on Aging (NCOA); and chair of National Voluntary Organization for Independent Living for the Aging and Health Promotion Institute of NCOA. He was one of the longest serving board members of NCOA; a delegate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at the 1995 White House conference on Aging; chair and co-chair of the National Academy of Practice in Optometry; and president of NAP. Dr. Verma has also served the AAO as chair of the Public Health and Environment Vision Section and the AOA as chair of Professional Relations Committee and currently serves on its Ethics and Values Committee. He helped to facilitate the passage of the Medicare Act, which allowed optometrists to be viewed as physicians. Among Dr. Verma’s many honors is the Optometrist of the Year Award (twice); George Gottschalk Award and Jerry Davidoff Award from the POA; Optometrist of the Year from the AOA; Carl Koch Award and Life Fellowship Award from the AAO; Distinguished Service Award from Prevent Blindness and Vision Care section of APHA; Geneva Mathiason Award from NCOA; Professional Excellence award from the Council Indian Organizations; James A Boucher Award from the National Academy of Practice in Optometry; and most recently the Nicholas A. Cummings Award from the National Academies of Practice. Dr. Verma was one of only four optometrists selected for the Health Policy Fellowship. He has also been in private practice in the United States since 1997.

The full list of the awardees and their bios can be found on the University’s Centennial website: salus.edu/centennial.


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