Anytime Dr. Janice Scharre travels, there is no doubt she has a murder mystery novel in hand. To further immerse herself in the fictional world, she also loves to match her novels to her real - life destinations. It’s something her husband likes to poke fun at, and even Dr. Scharre finds humor in this trait, but she’s also quick to mention it helps her learn more about the cities and cultures she’s exploring. “I think it would be fun to own a bookstore,” she said.
Dr. Scharre recently retired as the University’s provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, and moved to Northern Virginia to spend more quality time with her growing family. Undoubtedly, she will now have ample time to focus on the non-academic aspects of her life, but says she’ll miss the pace and the decision making of being provost, as well as her Salus colleagues.
Previously a dean at the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO), Dr. Scharre first came to Salus as a consultant in 2012. At the time, she was tasked to design and develop the Accelerated Scholars Program for the Pennsylvania College of Optometry Doctor of Optometry degree and prepare it for preliminary accreditation approval. The 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.
Upon the successful completion of these endeavors, she was drawn to the opportunity of the provost role when it arose. “When I was a dean [at ICO] I enjoyed the aspects of faculty development, curriculum development, and patient-related issues,” she said. “What drew me to the provost role here [at Salus] was that it wasn’t just an optometry program, but it was a university that offered similar healthcare profession programs that would broaden my understanding particularly in higher education.”
Once she came on board as provost, Dr. Scharre wasted no time hitting the ground running. She laid the groundwork for expanding faculty development which has allowed for more opportunities to attend conferences throughout the country.
In her earliest days in the role, she shared her plans to her colleague, and friend, Susan Oleszewski, OD ‘76, MA. Dr. Oleszewski was a bit skeptical, and told Dr. Scharre some of the policies might only be accomplished “when pigs fly.” Soon after, in good humor, a flying pig figurine appeared in her office. Over the years, colleagues added to the growing collection lining her windowsill. She looks at them now as a reminder of all that she has accomplished in her time at Salus, of which has not gone unnoticed.
“Since her appointment as our vice president of academic affairs and provost in 2014, Jan has actively promoted and maintained a distinctive and steadfast academic vision for the University,” said Salus president, Michael H. Mittelman, OD ‘80, FAAO. “Working tirelessly, she played a pivotal role in stabilizing and enhancing our academic programs by ensuring a disciplined approach to planning and execution, a strategic focus on all decision making, increased academic rigor and ensured assessment which is a core component for each of our programs.”
Colleagues who worked alongside Dr. Scharre came to the same conclusion - she brought a sustained and consistent balance to the provost’s office as both an advocate for the faculty and students alike. “She is tough when necessary, but is always fair and has advanced the University’s mission by building consensus,” said Brian Zuckerman, the University’s chief of staff. “Together we tried to eliminate administrative red tape in order to accomplish goals large and small. What I will miss most are our talks ranging from dealing with the issue of the day to contemplating the future of Salus.”
Four years ago, she was a firm believer in the collaborative education model and wanted to build on its widely regarded strength in clinical training. Dr. Scharre’s work has made programs, once siloed, work with one another seamlessly toward the University’s goal of increased interdisciplinary training and education. While she has seen great progress in this area, she still believes there is an opportunity for growth. Her wish list as she ends her time at Salus is easy: an expansion of the programs offered for prospective students and continual faculty development.
In this new chapter in her life, Dr. Scharre plans on golfing more - though she claims she isn’t very good - and wants to enjoy mowing the lawn. Yes, lawn. She and her husband will be traveling more frequently - with a matching murder mystery book in hand - and perhaps she’ll one day open a bookstore of her own.