Recently, Salus University, in collaboration with the China Optometric and Optical Association (COOA), held it’s first-ever commencement ceremony for eight students enrolled in the Master of Science (MSc) in Clinical Optometry degree program.
In June 2014, representatives from the COOA in Beijing, China, on behalf of Chinese optometry colleges and universities, contacted Salus University with a goal of collaborating on the development and promotion of optometric education in China. As a result of numerous discussions facilitated by Dr. Avi Gonen, associate dean of Global Development at Salus, the best approach was for the COOA to sponsor eight faculty members from institutions throughout China to attend a degree program delivered at the University’s Elkins Park campus.
In her role as academic liaison to International Programs at Salus, Dr. Melissa Vitek collaborated with several members of the University’s community to adapt the part-time Master of Science (MSc) in Clinical Optometry degree program. Historically delivered in the partner's host country, this program recently transformed to an on-campus full-time MSc in Clinical Optometry with an Advanced Studies certificate degree program. The Advanced Studies certificate portion
of the degree program enabled students to receive concentrated training in a single content area of their interest including: Contact Lens, Binocular Vision and Vision Therapy, Vision Impairment and Rehabilitation, and Optics, Refraction and Dispensing.
Dr. Michael Mittelman, president of Salus University, Dr. Janice Scharre, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Gonen traveled to China to finalize the written agreement between the COOA and Salus as well as interview candidates for the first cohort of students; eight students were selected and began the program in October 2015. On the evening of September 20, 2016, a graduation celebration was held at the Hafter Student Center, where each student successfully received their MSc. During her graduate commencement address, Dr. Nian Liu noted, “Every ending has a new beginning, and we are all proud to be members of the Salus University family.”
Dr. Melissa Vitek has been involved in international optometry programs for over 15 years and has worked with many talented, hard-working students from around the world. “This is the first time I’ve had the pleasure of working with an entire cohort of students that were incredibly engaged, committed to excellence, and appreciative of the opportunity provided to them to pursue higher education,” said Dr. Vitek. “I am so proud of their coursework performance, and I am confident that the COOA is one step closer to achieving their goal of promoting the highest level of optometric education in China.” Dr. Vitek would also like to acknowledge Ms. Janet Wilbur, senior program manager and Ms. Natalie Standig, program manager, for the support they provided each student during the year-long program.