In this new normal of online Zoom faculty meetings, participants don’t always enable their video and audio functions. But when they were told for one particular meeting that they needed to be dressed appropriately and to have their audio and video on for an announcement by Barry Eckert, PhD, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, something was up.

Fern SilvermanDr. Eckert was delivering a special message: that Fern Silverman, EdD, OTR/L, associate professor of Occupational Therapy (OT) and assistant director of the Doctoral Program in Occupational Therapy (OTD), was a 2020 Presidential Medal of Honor Award recipient. 

“It was exciting,” said Dr. Silverman. “It was a very feel good moment to be recognized for the effort that I’ve put in to the University and being able to see so many things come to fruition. It was nice to have that acknowledged.”

Dr. Silverman originally came to Salus in 2013 during the OT program’s infancy and then three years later helped launch the OTD program – fulfilling a need in the professional area. 

“That giving birth to a new department, basically, was something that was a real bonding experience for everybody involved, especially when it goes as well as ours has, if I may say so,” she said. “It was also a chance to be a little creative and leave your own touch on something. You’re seeing something that you’ve helped build grow and blossom.”

Fern Silverman PicHer recommendations for the award were written by both students and faculty, something Dr. Silverman said means a lot to her.

In their letter, students Nicole del Busto, ’20 MSOT and Kristin Kapelwicz, ’20 MSOT, wrote “she has a true passion for research and instills that in all of her lectures” and “pushes us as students to be critical of research and always use it to back up our arguments.” 

“One of the most extraordinary things that Dr. Silverman does includes relating classwork to real life experiences,” the students wrote about how she includes examples and research to highlight important topics. “Dr. Silverman is an incredible mentor and role model for all Occupational Therapy students.”

Dr. Fern SilvermanThe faculty recommendation was also full of praise.

“Dr. Silverman has been committed to creating a community of excellence at Salus University by continuing to further expand the Occupational Therapy (OT) program throughout the previous seven years,” wrote Lauren Sponseller, PhD ’18, OTD, MSOTR/L, MEd, chair of the OT department. “Her strong foundation created through the MSOT and OTD programs have created an impact on Salus University that will allow future OT students to continue to excel in the OT field.” 

Dr. Silverman is appreciative and humbled by being a Presidential Award winner.

“I’m not at the beginning of my career and I’m not at the end either,” she said. “I’ve done quite a few things over the years, from being a clinician to teaching at several universities. But my time at Salus has been very unique and very precious and special to me.”