Q & A with Pierrette Dayhaw-Barker, PhD
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Q & A with Pierrette Dayhaw-Barker, PhD

pierette-dayhaw-barker-pic1Dr. Pierrette Dayhaw-Barker served both the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) and Salus University for more than 35 years teaching within the Optometry, Audiology and Physician Assistant Studies 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.

Below is a Q and A with Dr. Dayhaw-Barker who received the Salus University Presidential Medal of Honor earlier this year at the Centennial Gala.

Please tell us a little bit about your experience at Salus/PCO.

peirette-barker-pic2The Salus experience was one of hard work facilitated by many friendships and enthusiastic colleagues. This was true especially in my early years when then PCO was leading the profession in the teaching and establishment of therapeutic privileges across the nation. Dr. (Norman) Wallis made it clear very  clear during our recruitment that he wanted faculty to develop and move the profession forward, enhancing the school’s reputation that had been developed by the likes of Drs. (Onofrey) Rybachok, Gilda and George Crozier, Lorraine Lombardi and many others. Thus, for the next 30 years or so, the same spirit of development was sustained by our leaders, Drs. Lewis and Di Stefano, who helped not only optometry but facilitated the establishment of training for other professions. We were also blessed by many inquisitive and thoughtful students, many of whom went on to become leaders in optometry. On a personal note, we made many professional and personal friends and the institution worked as a team.

What are some of your favorite memories from your time here?

It’s hard to single out a few favorite memories. One that was fondly remembered by some PCO faculty and members of the Board of Trustees, was the EYE Ball, a social affair that was part of The EYE Institute opening. Given that I spoke French and Felix (Barker) spoke Spanish, we were asked to entertain some of our international guests. However, since we were new to PCO, we didn’t know many of the local faculty, and we ended up trying to talk to attendees who thought we were some of the international guests. It wasn’t until George Crozier came to our group and laughingly told us we could all revert to English that we realized that all our efforts were in vain. However, most of those folks became very good friends.

Other memories were the lunches with George and Gilda Crozier. George was a fantastic raconteur and would tell us stories about the founding of the school and the various personalities and their contribution. I also recall some special student helpers (you know who you are!) who liked to be somewhat “mischievous” despite their intelligence and capabilities. But we also became good friends and I still speak to a few occasionally. Lastly, there are many, many memories with the international students and programs, especially all of the issues with travel abroad, so much so that some of my colleagues wouldn’t travel with me. Whether it was the hurricane in England, the snow storm in Greece, the eruption of the volcano in Iceland that stranded us in Poland, we chose to laugh and made the best of difficult circumstances.

What was your most impactful experience during your time here?

pierrette-barker-pic4It is hard to choose one but as a general statement I would say the privilege of participating in the development of several new clinical programs. I am particularly pleased to have helped in the establishment of a Graduate program, i.e., one that is focused on the discovery and establishment of new science.

What do you hope for the next 100 years of Salus or where will Salus/PCO be in the next 100 years?

I hope that Salus continues to be and further develops itself as a top tier institution for the training of various clinical professions and that its graduates continue to be leaders in their respective professions.

What have you been up to since leaving Salus/PCO?

My current favorite activities include entertaining my grandchildren and great grandchildren, maintaining friendships with many professional colleagues, reading a lot and painting.

What advice would you give for a junior faculty member or current student?

My advice to junior faculty would be to plan your professional life in five year increments, don’t let today’s difficulties stop you from enjoying your academic life and sustain your professional friendships.