For those who haven’t heard the “Nyman Story According to Sue O,” track down Susan Oleszewski, OD ‘76, MA, FAAO
, and ask her to share it. When it comes to the Nyman brothers — Neal Nyman, OD, and Jeffrey Nyman, OD, FAAO — Dr. O has all the inside information on the legendary twins and the influence they have had on educating optometrists at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University.
That story — shared by Dr. O with colleagues, friends and family last Sunday during an event honoring the contributions of the Nyman brothers and the establishment of the Nyman Brothers Legacy Scholarship at both campuses — The Eye Institute (TEI) and the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, campus — provided an inside and humorous look at the legacy of the Nymans at PCO.
Complete with a presentation that included a liberal use of Photoshop graphics — most notably a golf club (for Neal) and a coffee cup (for Jeffrey) — Dr. O walked the audience through a humorous look at the careers of the Nyman brothers, oftentimes eliciting hoots and guffaws from the appreciative crowd. “The Nyman story will have a little bit of truth to it, a little bit of fun and a lot of love,” said Dr. Oleszewski.
She detailed her experience being Dr. Jeffrey Nyman’s first resident when he came to teach at PCO in 1977 from the Massachusetts College of Optometry, now known as the New England College of Optometry (NECO).
“When I saw Jeffrey interact with patients who were almost all persons of color and of lower socioeconomic means, I saw him interact with dignity and with compassion. And, to a young practitioner, it was a wonderful mentorship,” said Dr. Oleszewski. “When I saw his knowledge base, it was encyclopedic, it was inspiring. There was everything about him that I wanted to emulate, and frankly, everyone in the clinical setting wanted to emulate him.”
In 1985, Dr. Neal Nyman left the Southern California College of Optometry and joined his brother at PCO. For the next 33 years, Neal served as chief of Primary Care Module Four at TEI and then as chief of Primary Care Suite Three in the renovated facility. Prior to his retirement in 2019, Neal was known for his quiet and compassionate teaching style.
Salus president Michael H. Mittelman, OD ‘80, MPH, MBA, FAAO, FACHE,
who had Jeffrey Nyman as a professor when he started his education at PCO, said he likes to brag about how the institution has defined the way optometry is practiced in the United States and internationally.
“These two gentlemen had a direct hand in the sense that they trained most of us and they trained us in a way that was gentle and was compassionate,” said Dr. Mittelman. “The way we were taught was with a firm hand, but a gentle heart. And, I think any of us who have had both Jeffrey and Neal as teachers can attest to that.”
The day began with tours at TEI and a plaque unveiling in the emergency service area dedicated to the Nymans, which characterizes how they have transformed the optometry program and what they have meant to PCO.
The afternoon included continuing education programs presented by G. Richard Bennett, OD ‘79, FAAO
, director of the Glaucoma Service at TEI; Brian Mahoney, OD ‘85
; Carlo Pelino, OD ‘94, FAAO
, chief of TEI’s Chestnut Hill office; Clark Chang, OD ‘07, FAAO, MS
; and Erin Kenny, OD ‘15, Resident ‘16
, chief of the William Feinbloom Vision Rehabilitation Center at TEI. The day concluded with dinner and music at the Hafter Student Community Center.
The Nyman Legacy Scholarship, which has raised approximately $200,000 to date, will be shared with PCO students with input from Drs. Nyman and the dean’s office.
“The impact of the scholarship of the Nyman brothers’ legacy will provide an opportunity for our students to continue to make the impact that both of these two amazing individuals have made, not just on us as providers and clinicians, but also on our patients,” said Melissa Trego, OD ‘04, Resident ‘09, PhD
, PCO dean.
Thomas Lewis, OD ‘70, PhD, FAAO
, president of PCO/Salus from 1989 to 2013, who has retired but continues to teach at PCO part-time, hired both of the Nyman brothers when he was dean.
“They’ve both been great assets to the University. Everything that’s been said about them today was true,” said Dr. Lewis. “The scholarship is a good legacy for them to leave. It will help a lot of students.”
While Neal has been enjoying his retirement spending time with his family and playing golf, Jeffrey is still teaching at PCO and is the current director of emergency services at TEI.
“I'm so happy that we could be part of this legacy. And, obviously it's been a pleasure to work with all of you out there. It’s amazing about time, how quickly it goes by. The older you get, the more you realize that's true. But I'm very happy to be standing here, proud to be here with this guy,” said Neal Nyman embracing his brother during the reception portion of the event.
“As I look around the room and have been walking around earlier in the day, I'm sort of just blown away by looking at all your faces and seeing memories out there,” said Jeffrey Nyman at the reception. “It is really about the importance of education and passing the torch down.”