President’s Medal Recipients

Tom Lewis at 75th CeremonyMany people have been part of the proud history of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) and Salus University.  Alumni, faculty, and friends of the College helped establish PCO as a pioneer and leader in the field of optometric education and the profession of optometry. The following people - highlighted on Medal Mondays - were honored on May 20, 1995 at the 75th Anniversary Gala Celebration for their outstanding contributions to the College and the field of optometry and vision care.

During the weekend of the Centennial Gala Celebration, additional alumni, faculty, and friends were honored. 

Thomas Lewis, OD ’70, PhD, FAAO

Pennsylvania College of Optometry/Salus University 
President 1989 to 2013


Tom Lewis Student ExamThomas Lewis, OD ’70, PhD, FAAO, never aspired to hold academic leadership positions, let alone end up as PCO’s president for more than 24 years. But that’s where his path led.

As a student, Dr. Lewis gave in-class presentations that were so good that his classmates encouraged him to pursue his PhD. Soon after becoming a PCO faculty member, he was subsequently thrust into administration, first as division director (department chairman), then as chief of staff at The Eye Institute. From there he was named interim vice president and dean of Academic Affairs, permanent vice president and dean and finally president of PCO, a position that he held until 2013.

During his tenure as president, Dr. Lewis initiated significant changes that helped Salus and PCO to be what it is today. Just as original PCO founder Dr. Albert Fitch had the foresight and determination to make optometry as a profession a leader in contemporary healthcare delivery, Dr. Lewis continued to look at the role optometry could play among the broader healthcare industry.

Dr. Lewis and EP CampusDr. Lewis oversaw the establishment and move to a new campus – from Philadelphia to Elkins Park, Pa. – in 1994. That included the development and building of a new student center – the Hafter Student Community Center – and a more than $11 million renovation and expansion of The Eye Institute.

It was also under his leadership that PCO continued to expand its programs in health sciences to include Audiology, Physician Assistant Studies, Public Health, Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedicine.

Dr. Lewis spearheaded PCO to apply for University status with the Pennsylvania Department of Education so the newly integrated programs would work in unison under the new umbrella institution of Salus University.

He officially stepped down as president in 2013 and went on a one-year sabbatical. But it wasn’t long before he was back on-campus ready to teach on a part-time basis. He continues to teach courses in general anatomy histology; ocular anatomy and histology; and clinical problem solving.

Dr. Lewis and AwardDr. Lewis was honored with the 2018 Career Achievement Award by the Review of Optometry at the Southeast Educational Congress of Optometry (SECO) conference. And, in 2009, he received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). He is also a past president and fellow of the American Academy of Optometry as well as past president of ASCO and the Partnership Foundation for Optometric Education.

At the 75th anniversary of PCO, the College’s Board of Trustees surprised Dr. Lewis with a Presidential Medal.