Saturday Spotlight: Presidential Medals Awardees

It takes a special community to ensure that the institution continues to be a leader in health science education.

In 1995, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Salus University’s founding college, the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO), seventy-six people of note were awarded the President’s Medal of Honor. On Friday, April 26, 2019,  thirty-five additional notable individuals will be awarded Presidential Medals to commemorate the 100th anniversary of PCO and the 10th anniversary of Salus.  

Every Saturday leading up to Friday April 26, we will highlight a few of the new awardees.

Satya Verma, OD '75, FAAO

Dr-Verma-(7)-edited.jpgDr. Satya Verma had an optometric degree from India and completed some graduate work in the U.S. when he came to PCO to join the faculty in 1971; he subsequently also became a student pursuing his Doctor of Optometry degree. Forty-seven years later, Dr. Verma, an associate professor and director of the PCO Externship Program, now holds the distinction of being among the longest-serving PCO and Salus employee. Among his many accomplishments at PCO and Salus is launching the low-vision clinic mobile clinic to serve the visual needs of home-bound patients. Dr. Verma has held numerous local, state and national leadership positions including serving as the 100th president of the POA. It was during his tenure that the Pennsylvania Therapeutic Law was passed. He also formerly held positions as the secretary of the Indian Optometric Association; chair of Vision Care Section of APHA, chair of National Council on Aging (NCOA); and chair of National Voluntary Organization for Independent Living for the Aging and Health Promotion Institute of NCOA. He was one of the longest serving board members of NCOA; a delegate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at the 1995 White House conference on Aging; chair and co-chair of the National Academy of Practice in Optometry; and president of NAP. Dr. Verma has also served the AAO as chair of the Public Health and Environment Vision Section and the AOA as chair of Professional Relations Committee and currently serves on its Ethics and Values Committee. He helped to facilitate the passage of the Medicare Act, which allowed optometrists to be viewed as physicians. Among Dr. Verma’s many honors is the Optometrist of the Year Award (twice); George Gottschalk Award and Jerry Davidoff Award from the POA; Optometrist of the Year from the AOA; Carl Koch Award and Life Fellowship Award from the AAO; Distinguished Service Award from Prevent Blindness and Vision Care section of APHA; Geneva Mathiason Award from NCOA; Professional Excellence award from the Council Indian Organizations; James A Boucher Award from the National Academy of Practice in Optometry; and most recently the Nicholas A. Cummings Award from the National Academies of Practice. Dr. Verma was one of only four optometrists selected for the Health Policy Fellowship. He has also been in private practice in the United States since 1997.

Pierrette Dayhaw – Barker, PhD

Donor-Reception-TEI-Jan-2014-(124)(1).jpgDr. Pierrette Dayhaw-Barker served both PCO and Salus for more than 35 years teaching within the Optometry, Audiology and Physician Assistant programs. Dr. Dayhaw-Barker also served as the assistant dean and then associate dean of Basic Science before serving as the associate dean for the Foundations of Optometric Medicine. She played an instrumental role in the development of Curriculum 2000, a major innovation to the optometry curriculum implemented in 2001, she laid the foundation for University-wide interprofessional education and launched the University’s PhD in Biomedicine program. Dr. Dayhaw-Barker, professor emeritus, received Salus University Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2014.

Tomi Browne, AuD ‘04

tomibrowne.jpgDr. Tomi Browne is the founder and president of HEARt of the Village, Inc., which works with HIV+ children in Kenya. Dr. Browne and her teams have identified and arranged treatment and surgery for dozens of children with ear disease and hearing loss. Salus Osborne College of Audiology (OCA) students and faculty have been active participants in this program. She was an early supporter of Dr. George Osborne’s efforts to establish the Audiology Program at PCO, and she taught classes online for six years. Dr. Browne, who has over 20 years of private practice experience, is a founder of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) and a past recipient of the AAA President’s Award for her exceptional service and dedication to the Academy, the profession of audiology and to the individuals with hearing, tinnitus or balance disorders. A past director of the Salus University Alumni Association, she was the 2015 recipient of the Salus University Alumni Association Audiology Alumnus of the Year Award for distinguishing herself through extraordinary service and contributions to the profession of audiology, bringing honor and prestige to Salus University and, specifically, to OCA.

Anthony F. Di Stefano, OD ‘73, MPH, MEd, FAAO

Dr-Di-Stefano-Salus-University.jpgDr. Anthony Di Stefano formally joined the PCO faculty in 1974 as an associate professor of Public Health. President Dr. Norman Wallis appointed Dr. Di Stefano as a special assistant to the president for Strategic Planning in 1975. He developed PCO’s first five-year strategic plan which would form the foundation for PCO’s future growth. He was the architect of many new degree programs and innovative program delivery methods, including the transformation of the Optometry program through such initiatives as Curriculum 2000 and the three-year Doctor of Optometry Accelerated Scholars Program.