Robert E. Horne, who served as dean of Student Affairs at Salus University, will be presented with an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, at the University’s 122nd commencement ceremony, May 27, 2021.
Hired in 1976 by then Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) vice president and dean of Student Affairs, John J. Crozier, OD ‘48, FAAO, to be the director of Minority Student Affairs, dean Horne’s impact was immediate. There were only 10 students of color enrolled at the time and most of them had already left the program before he arrived on campus. Dean Horne’s initiatives in recruitment and retention efforts caused an immediate change that eventually led to PCO being the most racially diverse program in the country.
By 1977, dean Horne was instrumental in launching the Summer Enrichment Program (SEP), originally funded by the government to support racially underrepresented students and then continued by the College when government funding ended. This novel summer program provided optometry students of color preparation for fall classes, orientation to health professional school, mentorship and coaching prior to the start of their first year. Dean Horne understood these students had the ability to become great doctors, but many were not aware of the level of commitment and effort professional school required. Dean Horne demanded hard work and commitment from all participants and had a unique way of getting the best out of his students. The program, which is relaunching this summer after a brief hiatus, is now called the Robert E. Horne Summer Enrichment Program.
Dean Horne’s career at Salus would eventually elevate him to the same position as Dr. Crozier, his mentor and predecessor — vice president and dean of Student Affairs, a position from which he would retire in 2012.
“I can't begin to tell you how thankful and humble I am to receive this honor,” said dean Horne. “And, I want to offer a word of thanks to the one group that made all of this possible: All of the students who trusted me and gave me everything they had to be successful. Trust that I will always remember each and every one of you.”
Watch the premiere of the University’s virtual commencement ceremony on May 27, 2021 to view dean Horne's acceptance speech in full.