The news of Andrew Gurwood, Dr. Andrew GurwoodOD ‘89, Resident ‘90, FAAO, receiving a 2020 Presidential Medal of Honor came as no surprise to fellow faculty. After all, even as a Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) student in the late 1980s, Dr. Gurwood, PCO/Salus professor of Clinical Sciences and co-chief of Suite 3 at The Eye Institute (TEI) – made an impact.

A former classmate later turned colleague, Alan Kabat, OD ‘90, FAAO, recalled their school days together, writing about the influence Dr. Gurwood had on his own career in his recommendation for the award.

“Dr. Andrew Gurwood has been a mentor, colleague and friend for over 30 years,” Dr. Kabat said. “I first knew him as an upperclassman at PCO when I was a first-year student. He helped to set an example even then, serving as a teaching assistant in numerous laboratory courses and helping to tutor students who required additional help.”

Having worked closely throughout their careers, Dr. Kabat continued to reflect on his appreciation for Dr. Gurwood as an educator, praising the PCO/Salus professor’s unique ability to captivate students through his own creative teaching style.

“His approach is like nothing I’ve ever witnessed before. He keeps his students fully engaged 100 percent of the time that they are in clinic,” Dr. Kabat said. “He provides additional lectures, skills assessments and demonstrations – many of which are impromptu – on a daily basis. More importantly, he holds his students accountable for being the best physicians possible and encourages them to be exceptional stewards of their responsibilities.”

But Dr. Gurwood wanted to acknowledge the help and support he received from others – noting the award also symbolizes their own dedication.

“My accomplishments are the product of hard work in combination with nurturing from mentors,” Dr. Gurwood said. “It is nice to be recognized for a lifetime of contributions to the college and profession, but I wish to also to recognize all those who assisted me along the way.”

According to a nomination letter written by PCO/Salus assistant professor Andrew Meagher, OD ‘15, Resident ‘16, FAAO, Dr. Gurwood has been a fixture and shows up with the same level of passion for optometric education and the profession every day.

“It almost goes without saying every faculty member, student and others affiliated with Salus University know of Dr. Gurwood,” Dr. Meagher said. “His impact on the Optometry College and University as a whole is widespread and long-lasting. His tenure at the University has been decades long and his motivation to teach, publish, inspire and collaborate has been steadfast—with no signs of letting up.”