AOA Meeting and Albert Fitch Memorial Alumnus of the Year 2018

The University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) was well represented during the American Optometric Association (AOA)’s annual Optometry’s Meeting®, held this past week June 20 – 24 in Denver, Colo.

Students, faculty, and alumni attended and lectured throughout the week-long meeting, and enjoyed their time networking with other optometry students and professionals.

Optometry Quiz BowlCeleste Gomez ‘19OD represented Salus PCO during the Essilor Optometric Student Bowl TM, the national quiz bowl competition for optometry students. She made the University proud as she competed up to the final round during the exciting event. Gomez won the 2017 PCO Quiz Bowl, which secured her spot in the national competition this year. 

During the conference, the University also held an Alumni and Friends Reception and Reunion held at the Hyatt Regency in the Convention Center in which the Albert Fitch Memorial Alumnus of the Year Award was bestowed upon David R. McPhillips, OD ’85, FAAO, FVI on Friday evening. While Dr. McPhillips was unable to attend in person to receive the award, he did graciously send a video thanking all who nominated and voted for him to be the 2018 recipient.

The award is named after Dr. Albert Fitch, the founder of the then Pennsylvania State College of Optometry, which was later renamed to Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO). Dr. Fitch was considered a visionary by many of his peers and a revolutionary by many others in healthcare. His goal was to create a professional school of optometry in Philadelphia that was on par with the medical and dental schools at the time. “His desire to set standards for education is something that Salus continues to do today,” Dr. McPhillips said during his acceptance speech.

Albert Fitch Memorial Alumnus of the Year

The Alumni Association’s Albert Fitch Memorial Alumnus of the Year Award is presented to an alumnus of the University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry who has distinguished himself/herself through extraordinary service and contributions to the profession of optometry, bringing honor and prestige to PCO.

Dr. McPhillips no doubt fits the bill for the prestigious award. Serving the Horsham, Pa., community with his private practice for 24 years, he has also served as president of the Pennsylvania Optometric Association and is involved with the American Optometric Association, American Academy of Optometry, and the Philadelphia and Montgomery County Optometric Associations.

In addition, Dr. McPhillips is an impassioned champion of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH). Having participated in over 50 missions to developing nations around the world, he also cofounded the Pennsylvania chapter of VOSH and served as the president of VOSH International from 2013 through 2015. While on the missions, Dr. McPhillips developed and supported permanent eye clinics in Haiti as well as Guatemala and has been instrumental in working with Haiti’s medical school to implement the country’s first optometric program.

He is a strong advocate of the optometric profession on both a state and local level and is passionately involved in lobbying for legislation. ”Legislation can change the optometry profession overnight and it affects all of us,” he said about his dedication.   
“When I first got the call about getting this award, I thought it had to be a mistake – I look at the list of previous winners and they  are pillars in optometry – people who were critical in developing the expansion of our profession – it was very, very humbling,” he said.

Dr. McPhillips also congratulated Dr. Lorraine Lombardi on her Distinguished Service Award as well as Dr. Susan Oleszewski on her Special Recognition Award saying that, “they are true Salus icons with their passion, enthusiasm, and dedication – they certainly had a huge influence on me.”