When Melissa Trego, OD ‘04, Resident ‘09, PhD
, became dean of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO)
at Salus University in 2017, one of the things she appreciated was the mentorship and insights of Satya Verma, OD ‘75, FAAO, DPNAP, Diplomate
. In particular, one of things she admired about Dr. Verma was his ability to be supportive of women in leadership positions.
“We were at a conference one time and there were some alumni asking me questions about my role as the dean,” said Dr. Trego. “One said, ‘You seem pretty young. As a female, do the students take you seriously?’ It was one of the first times I felt that. And, Dr. Verma spoke right up and said, ‘She’s the dean and she’s done a great job.’ It felt really good that he was so supportive.”
That was just one of the many stories shared by family, friends and colleagues at an event April 14, 2022, to honor Dr. Verma — who joined the PCO faculty in 1971 — on his retirement at the end of 2021 after 50 years of service at the institution.
A plaque unveiling in Dr. Verma’s name of the externship suite on the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania campus kicked off the festivities. A small reception followed at the Hafter Student Community Center, where several of Dr. Verma’s colleagues described his contributions to the College and University.
“I’ve always been awed by his tenacity as a person who works very hard. He’s got a strength about him,” said Jeffrey Nyman, OD, FAAO, who joined the PCO faculty in 1977. “The number of people he touched while in his various roles . . . he has had an incredible career. He’s been a very good role model for all of us.”
Salus president Michael H. Mittelman, OD ‘80, MPH, MBA, FAAO, FACHE
, agreed. As a former PCO student of Dr. Verma’s, Dr. Mittelman relayed on his own feelings.
“We all watched him, we all tried to emulate him,” said Dr. Mittelman. “I’m not sure he taught me the patience he tried to teach me, but he certainly modeled for us how a professional is supposed to act and what they’re supposed to do.” Dr. Mittelman described Dr. Verma’s immeasurable impact to countless students, faculty and staff during his half century of dedication to the University. “Dr. Verma had an impact unlike any other. He truly has helped to build us to the wonderful institution that we are today because of the direct influence on everything he did,” said Dr. Mittelman.
Dr. Verma was joined at the reception by his wife Asha, their two daughters, Pooja and Kajal, and their families, including four grandchildren, ages six to 16 — Mia, Jackson, Ajai and Rahul. Amidst all the kind words and accolades for Dr. Verma, it was his grandchildren that stole the show. Each of them had prepared a written message of love and respect for their grandfather, which they individually read aloud to the gathered crowd.
“It always feels good to hear nice things said about you,” said Dr. Verma after the ceremony. “The key thing to keep in mind is that you do things because you want to do them. Nobody can predict the outcome before it happens.”