Alumni Feature: Robert A. Rosenberg, OD '61

RosenbergWhen he was seven, he had his first optometric eye exam, and recalls how impressed he was by the procedures, the equipment and the lenses “that helped me see better.”

Fast forward to 1956 when Rosenberg, a junior at Temple University majoring in English, happened to read an article in the Temple News, the student newspaper, that the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA) was going to award a full four-year scholarship to the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO, which at that time was the Pennsylvania State College of Optometry - PSCO). A required part of the application was an essay about what you hope to achieve in optometry.

“I guess my English major paid off,” he said. “It got me the scholarship and got me into optometry.”

He entered PCO in September 1957, and recalled the human anatomy lab in the basement of the old building on the Oak Lane campus.  In his words, “It was unforgettable.” 

Another moment etched in his memory was his first human anatomy lab lecture, delivered by Professor Onofrey G. Rybachok, head of the department.  “He grabbed our attention by lifting a heavy volume of Gray’s Anatomy and slamming it on a table. Talk about the trauma of being a student!”

Dr. Rosenberg recalls that those were lean times at PCO. “Our chemistry professor, Jacob Nevyas, PhD, used to fill all the chalkboards with chemistry equations until one day, the chalk he was using broke. ‘My last piece of chalk! ‘he lamented.”


He became friends with a classmate, Benigno Fernandez, OD ’61, from Puerto Rico, helping him to master English while Fernandez helped him with chemistry equations.  The two have remained friends through the years and have never missed a class reunion.

And he never missed a class, thanks to Optometry Professor John C. Neill, OD ’22, known as the co-inventor of the small contact lens. “To get to PCO, I had to take a trolley and then the subway to Broad and Olney,” he recalls. “Dr. Neill would see me and pick me up in his Cadillac Eldorado and drive me the rest of the way to school!”

In his junior and senior years, Dr. Rosenberg was elected class president and vice president of student council. At his graduation in 1961, he was chosen valedictorian and delivered a speech that left one young lady, Geri Tishler, “starry-eyed.” He and Geri were married that September. They have two sons, Larry and Ron, and two grandchildren, Alex and Jessica.

Following his graduation, he worked as a psychology lab instructor at PCO,  served as editor of the Laboratory Manual of Studies in Experimental Psychology and worked at the clinic as an assistant chief. He was sent by PCO to earn a master’s degree in psychology at Temple (1964) and a year later, established his optometry practice in Abington Township, which he maintained for 30 years. Additionally, he taught psychology at the Community College of Philadelphia for 48 years.

“In the optometry profession, you’re treating the whole person, not just the eyes,” he reflected.  “Going forward, I hope to employ my talents and resources to help Salus become the premier institution for the study of health sciences.”