Presidential Transition

Welcome President Mittelman - July 15, 2013

Today the Salus University community welcomed Michael H. Mittelman, OD, MPH, as its sixth president. Dr. Mittelman is a 1980 graduate of the University's Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Welcome, Dr. Mittelman!

Letter from President-Designate Dr. Mittelman - May 31, 2013

Dr. Mittelman and Dr. Lewis

Salus University President-Designate, Dr. Michael H. Mittelman with outgoing President Thomas H. Lewis at Commencement, May 26, 2013.

This is the first of what I hope will become many direct communications from me to all of you about my transition to the president’s position at Salus University.

This past weekend marked a crossroads for us.  Dr. Thomas Lewis presided over his last commencement ceremony and I was extremely honored to be officially welcomed as the president-designate of Salus.  

Some things won’t change, such as our tradition of leadership, excellence and innovation in the delivery of healthcare, education and rehabilitation.  Salus has set the standard for health, education, rehabilitation and scope of practice by maintaining and continually expanding our focus on academics, while acquiring a distinguished record of firsts, particularly in optometry.   I intend to build upon Dr. Lewis’ vision and add both scope and substance to our curricula to meet our nation’s growing primary care, mental health and other needs.

Our commitment to preparing highly skilled professionals will ensure Salus consistently provides the highest level of education for all of our specialties, positioning our graduates as future leaders and state-of-the-art providers who will be at the forefront of their professions.

I cannot tell you how excited I am about the challenges and opportunities that present themselves as I get ready to lead Salus to the next level of academic excellence. 

The future of the health professions is dynamic. Advancements in technology, unimaginable in the past, have become standard practice today.  Changes in the nation’s healthcare delivery system are significantly altering every facet of our diversified medical fields. The mission of Salus University will continue to concentrate not only on keeping pace with these rapidly expanding areas but, more importantly, setting national trends and standards and being the leader in providing the nation’s top health, education and rehabilitation professionals.

Our success as an institution derives from combining bright, motivated students with outstanding, world-class faculty, excellent facilities, diverse learning opportunities and actively engaged alumni.
I need your help in continuing to move Salus towards our goals.  Our future is bright, the challenges will be great but the rewards gained through your interest and participation will have payoffs well into the future. I encourage you to be active members of the Salus University family - you won’t be sorry!

Michael H. Mittelman, OD ’80, MPH 

Michael H. Mittelman, OD, MPH, FAAO

Ceremonial Transition at Commencement

New Leadership: Salus University
President Dr. Thomas L. Lewis to Introduce President-Designate
Rear Admiral Michael H. Mittelman at May 26 Commencement

Salus University’s commencement on Sunday, May 26 at 2:00p.m. at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall marks the end of an era for the  healthcare education community.  After 24 years of thoughtful and progressive leadership, Dr. Thomas L. Lewis, OD, PhD will oversee his final commencement as president before passing the baton to his successor.

Stepping into this new role in mid-July is Rear Admiral Michael H. Mittelman, OD, MPH, who brings over 30 years of healthcare industry experience in both military and civilian posts. Dr. Mittelman will address students and faculty during the keynote speech, before participating in a ceremonial gowning where he will receive the chain of office from Dr. Lewis.    

Prior to assuming the presidency in 1989, Dr. Lewis, a 1970 graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, spent 17 years in the halls of the school as an anatomy professor, dean and vice president.  He accepted his appointment as president for one simple reason: “I thought I could have more impact – more quickly and effectively.”  Dr. Lewis, whose years of experience provided a deep understanding of the changing times of medicine, was the driving force behind numerous advancements and expansions that have guided the organization into the forefront of healthcare education.

His efforts to move the Pennsylvania College of Optometry from a single-purpose school to a multi-purpose institution led to the establishment of Salus University in 2008, which now offers 13 accredited degree programs.  Dr. Lewis’ accomplishments as president include adding an international Master of Science (MSc) degree program in clinical optometry, masters’ degree and certificate programs in Orientation and Mobility, and Vision Rehabilitation Teaching, a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) professional degree, a Master of Medical Science (MMS) degree program in Physician Assistant Studies, a wholly online Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program, doctoral and masters programs in Occupational Therapy, and a new Master of Science/PhD dual degree program in Biomedicine.

During his tenure as the institution’s second-longest serving president, Dr. Lewis was the primary motivation behind the University’s move from Oak Lane to the new Elkins Park campus.  He also oversaw the building of the Hafter Student Community Center and renovation of The Eye Institute, the University’s largest clinical teaching facility. 

Dr. Lewis views his retirement not as the end of his career, but as merely the beginning of the next chapter.  “I don’t want to unwind,” he says.  Traveling both nationally and internationally on speaking engagements, Dr. Lewis has not closed the door on the possibility of returning to teaching.   In the meantime he enjoys his time with Harriet, his wife of 45 years, their two children and five grandchildren.

Taking on the challenge of filling such big shoes is Deputy Surgeon General of the Navy, Dr. Michael H. Mittelman, who will retire from the Navy next month after 32 years of service.  A 1980 graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Dr. Mittelman is a Fellow of both the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American Academy of Optometry.  In 2012, he received the American Optometric Association’s Distinguished Service Award.  He is past president of the Armed Forces Optometric Society and recipient of their Orion Award.  Throughout his military career, Dr. Mittelman has been stationed around the world and boasts a curriculum vitae that includes posts such as Director of the Medical Service Corps, Command Surgeon for the U.S. Joint Forces Command and US Pacific command, and Deputy Chief of Staff, Human Resources for the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. 

When asked about the daunting task of succeeding Dr. Lewis and the future of Salus University, Dr. Mittelman displays focus, decisiveness and passion.  “I believe Salus holds a very unique and important place in helping to shape America’ healthcare environment.  It is my very clear and absolute goal to propel Salus University to beyond what it is today; to the next level of excellence; to become the leading provider of the best-trained health, education and rehabilitation professionals in the country,” says Dr. Mittelman, who has outlined a plan to expand the university’s academic portfolio. “Dr. Mittelman brings a wealth of experience to the position of president that includes clinical and research backgrounds,” says Salus University Board of Trustees Chair Jo Surpin.  “I am certain that under Dr. Mittelman's leadership Salus will continue to prosper.”

Born in Long Beach, NY and currently residing in the Washington, DC area, Dr. Mittelman views his return to the area as a coming home.  “This is where my professional career began,” he says.  “Dr. Lewis was not only my teacher and mentor, but also someone whom I have always deeply respected and admired.  I feel extremely honored and privileged to lead this great institution.”  Dr. Mittelman and  his wife Tanis have  three daughters.

Salus University’s Spring 2013 Commencement will award the degrees of Doctor of Optometry (OD), Doctor of Audiology (AuD), Master of Education in Blindness and Visual Impairment, Master of Science in Low Vision Programs, Master of Public Health (MPH), and the international Master of Science in Clinical Optometry (MSc) to 220 students. Dr. Lewis will welcome the members of the Class of 2013 and their families as he opens the final commencement ceremony of his outstanding career.

SALUS Names New President 

Admiral Michael H. Mittleman, OD '80, MPH

By a unanimous vote of the Board of Directors, Admiral Michael H. Mittelman, OD ‘80, MPH, has been named president of Salus University. He will succeed President Thomas L. Lewis. The announcement to the University’s faculty, students, alumni and staff was made by Board of Trustees Chair Jo Surpin, who thanked the members of the search committee for their efforts.

With 32 years as a senior healthcare executive in the US Navy, Admiral Mittelman brings a wealth of experience to Salus that encompasses both clinical and research. Ms. Surpin noted that his vision for the University--to become the nation's leading provider of high quality, vital healthcare professionals--is very much in keeping with the Salus mission and credo.

Admiral Mittelman remains on active duty with the Navy until next year. He will not begin his appointment as Salus University president until he fulfills all of his military commitments, which may be sometime in late spring or early summer 2013. 

In order to accommodate this timing and insure a smooth transition, Dr. Lewis has agreed to remain as president during this period. As president-designate, Admiral Mittelman will be in regular contact with Dr. Lewis and will be in Elkins Park on occasion, when time and his current service obligations permit.

A native of Long Beach, NY, Admiral Mittelman and his wife, Tanis, are the parents of three daughters.

January 23, 2012 - Update from Board of Trustees Chair

On behalf of the Presidential Search Committee, I’m pleased to give the University community an update on the progress being made in the search for the next President of Salus University. 

Our search firm, Isaacson, Miller has developed an initial pool of applicants based on your input, as well as feedback from other contacts and sources.   Advertisements have also been placed in various print publications.  The Search Committee met on Thursday, January 19 to review the first wave of applications.   Additional meetings have been scheduled as the pool of applicants continues to develop.

We anticipate that face to face interviews between candidates and the Search Committee will take place towards the end of March/beginning of April.  Thereafter, finalists will be brought on campus for open meetings with various constituent groups.

Needless to say, for us to attract and retain candidates in the search process, confidentiality is extremely important at this stage of the process. So please, understand that members of the search committee will not be at liberty to discuss any specific candidates or to address rumors.  I will continue to update the University community as various elements in the search process become more public.  Information also will be posted on the Salus University website as it becomes available.

Thank you for your support of this important process. 

Jo Surpin
Chair, Salus University Board of Trustees

January, 2012

Salus University has retained the national executive search firm of Isaacson, Miller to assist in its search for a new president. All inquiries, nominations, referrals and resumes are confidential and should be directed to Isaacson, Miller search team members Philip Jaeger, Denise O'Grady Gaffney, and Amy Segal.

For complete information:

November, 2011

Ms. Jo Surpin, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, announces the selection of national higher education search firm Isaacson, Miller to the Salus community and solicits suggestions for candidates. [ See announcement ]

August, 2011

Thomas L. Lewis

On August 8, 2011, Salus University president, Dr. Thomas L. Lewis, announced that he would be stepping down after 23 years as president on June 30, 2012. (link to press release).