The first female appointed as dean of an optometry school, former provost Janice E. Scharre, OD, MA, FAAO, is now the first female recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Schools and Colleges of
Optometry (ASCO). Dr. Scharre officially received the accolade during the organization's virtual Annual Business Meeting on June 24. The award recognizes an outstanding individual for unique and exceptional accomplishments and contributions to both ASCO and optometric education.
With a deep history of 43 years dedicated to the healthcare profession, Dr. Scharre’s nationwide recognition was especially meaningful to the well-decorated educator.
“I am honored to be the 2020 recipient of ASCO’s Lifetime Achievement Award,” Dr. Scharre said. “I have had the opportunity to work with gifted faculty and dedicated administrators on behalf of students and patients throughout my career. I have been blessed with supportive mentors and colleagues in my work. My accomplishments are a reflection of those who have supported and guided me throughout my career. It is humbling to me to be recognized from my peers in this way.”
Previously a dean at the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO), Dr. Scharre joined Salus as a consultant in 2012 to design and develop the Accelerated Scholars Program
for the University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO)
Doctor of Optometry degree and prepare it for preliminary accreditation approval. The Accelerated Scholars Program was the first of its kind in the country and is highly selective, offering enrolled students the opportunity to earn the credit equivalency of a traditional four-year program in just three years. She also developed some of the academic standards and policies for the Department of International and Continuing Education
A firm believer in the collaborative education model, working to build on the model’s widely regarded strength in clinical training, Dr. Scharre was named provost and vice president of Academic Affairs in 2014, holding the position until 2018 when she retired from the University. In addition to being colleagues, Salus president Michael H. Mittelman, OD, MPH, MBA, FAAO, FACHE,
described Dr. Scharre as a “good friend, confidant and role model.”
“Dr. Scharre provided extraordinary academic leadership to Salus during a time of great institutional change and challenges,” Dr. Mittelman said. “Thanks to her professional insights, knowledge and leadership, not only did Salus successfully add our Speech-Language Pathology program but also obtained full re-accreditation of our Physician Assistant and Optometry programs, in addition to earning accreditation with commendation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the University’s overall accreditor. Dr. Scharre also was a great mentor to me as I began my tenure at Salus.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award is the latest validation of Dr. Scharre’s decades-long dedication to providing optometric education to others. Dr. Scharre received another ASCO honor, winning the Dr. Jack Bennett Innovation in Optometric Education Award in 2007. In the same year, she also received the Inaugural Dr. Joseph L. Henry Achievement Award from her alma mater ICO. Additionally, in 2005, she was named one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Optical” by Vision Monday Magazine.
Dr. Scharre began her career as a student scholar and pre-med graduate of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., in 1972.