History Book

Berkeley Optometry—A History, by John Fiorillo, offers a fascinating look into the origins and evolution of a world-class institution. This scholarly and candid chronicle presents, in lively and extensive detail, a revealing exploration of key events that have made Berkeley the premiere institution of its kind. The book also features profiles of many alumni and faculty who are among the visionaries and leaders in optometry and vision science, both past and present.

ISBN: 978-0-9826702-0-0

To order, or for additional information, please contact the Alumni Relations team.


Recent Awards

The faculty at Berkeley Optometry constitute a prestigious group of educators and researchers. Use the button below to see a list of recent awards.

Recent Awards

Berkeley Optometry Timeline

Period I (1907-1923): Establishing an Optometry Curriculum

California Optometric Association establishes a committee to petition UC Regents for optometry course: George Schneider, Charles Wood, and Frederick Chinn meet with UC President Benjamin Wheeler; George Schneider also serves as the first Secretary of the Alameda County Society of Optometrists (forerunner of ACCCOS).

George Schneider elected President of the California Association of Optometrists (forerunner of California Optometric Association).

Associate Professor of Physics Ralph Minor lectures for first time before an optometric association (Alameda County Association of Optometrists): “Five Fundamental Phenomena of Light.”

George Schneider twice elected President of the American Optical Association (forerunner of American Optometric Association).

Ralph Minor lectures before Alameda County optometrists: “The Radiometer.”

Ralph Minor gives a series of UC Extension lectures on elementary physics and optics (Bay Area optometrists attend lectures).

Guest lecturer James P. C. Southall, Professor of Physics, Columbia University, presents during summer session the first course at the University describing physiology of vision and modern optical instruments.

Ralph Minor gives a University course (UC Extension) expressly for optometrists: “Optics as Applied to Optometry.”

Meeting between optometrists and the University Course Committee results in preliminary agreement on curriculum.

The University Course Committee submits curriculum proposal to the University Council.

The University Council recommends a curriculum in optometry to the Academic Senate and UC Regents.

George Schneider launches statewide fundraising campaign to finance the curriculum, raising $9,075 by the following year.

Legislation sponsored by California State Association of Optometrists would raise annual license renewal fee from $2 to $10, with $8 given in support of UC optometry program to fund curriculum.

Amended optometry law passes on May 23 with renewal fee increase for the Optometry program; University accepts previously rejected funds from California optometrists; UC Regents approve curriculum courses on July 12.

First curriculum in optometry begins August 17 (headed by Ralph Minor, PhD); George Schneider appointed first lecturer of optometry (part time); class and laboratory spaces allotted in third floor (attic) and basement of Le Conte Hall (Department of Physics); graduates will receive BS-Physics + Certificate in Optometry.

The Berkeley campus narrowly escapes widespread damage from a fire that devastates north Berkeley (September).

Period II (1924-1948): Curriculum Development and Independence

Frederick Mason appointed first full-time lecturer in optometry; Milton Shutes, MD, becomes first physician (oculist) affiliated with Berkeley Optometry by teaching ocular pathology.

First graduates of Berkeley Optometry: Angus McLeod and Hartle Tallman (BS-Physics and Certificate in Opt.)


Optometry Alumni Association holds informal meetings of alumni, students, and faculty.

Revised major results in a BS in Physics-Optometry and a Certificate in Optometry.

First female graduate in optometry—Jennie Chai Louie (Mrs. Harry B. Mew). Optometry Alumni Association of UC writes first constitution and bylaws.

First optometry student organization (as a chapter of the Omega Delta National Fraternity of Optometrists).

First Hispanic graduate: Julieta Arias [Burda].

Optometry established as a department within College of Letters and Science; Ralph Minor named chair of department; two years of lower-division preprofessional followed by two years of upper-division professional program (graduates awarded BS-Opt + Certificate in Optometry).

First African-American graduate—Marvin Poston. Campaign for a separate optometry building begins.

UC Regents approve an independent curriculum separate from Department of Physics; School of Optometry established; Ralph Minor named Director. Students disaffiliate from Omega Delta and establish the Associated Optometry Students of the University of California.

First graduating class to receive BS-Opt degrees.

Accelerated war-time program to offset shortage of optometrists; clinic first opens to general public (1943; previously “campus public” only).

California Optometric Association Optometry Building Fund reaches fundraising goal of $80,000. Ralph Minor, PhD named the first dean of Optometry; Minor introduces Berkeley’s first contact lens course.

Ralph Minor retires; Kenneth Stoddard (’36), OD, PhD becomes the second dean of Berkeley Optometry. Physiological Optics Graduate Research Program begins (conferring MS and PhD degrees).

California optometrists contribute $80,000 for an optometry building; governor Earl Warren approves state funding of an additional $300,000.

Gordon Walls becomes the first full-time vision scientist (non-optometrist) to join the Berkeley Optometry faculty (January).

wenty-fifth anniversary year; optometry building (formerly Durant Hall) dedicated June 22 and renovations begin; first class of students (with junior-year standing) enrolled in expanded curriculum with MOpt degree after fifth (graduate) year.

Period III (1949-1978): Advancing Optometry and Vision Science

Partial occupancy and classes held in optometry building after Stage-I alterations; first year of full University financial support of optometry program (portion of state licensing renewal fees now directed toward “Optometry Research Fund”); first branch library for optometry opens.

First PhD graduate (Elwin Marg, ’40) and first MS graduate (William Fleischman) in physiological optics.

First graduates of expanded curriculum (with fifth or graduate year) receive Master of Optometry (MOpt) degrees. First annual optometry alumni reunion and continuing education program.

UC Regents approve the “Optometry Building” as the official name of former Durant Hall.

Stage-II renovations completed in Optometry Building (full occupancy and instruction); Meredith Morgan (’34) named the first Alumnus of the Year by the Optometry Alumni Association.

Alumni establish the first pre-paid vision care plan—California Vision Services (renamed Vision Service Plan in 1976).

Meredith Morgan (’34) serves as Acting Chair of Berkeley Optometry during Dean Kenneth Stoddard’s illness.


Meredith Morgan (’34), OD, PhD becomes the third dean of Berkeley Optometry

Henry Peters (’38) becomes first full-time director of clinics.

Admissions for new (expanded) four-year OD program; four MOpt graduates from 1965 complete optional additional year to become the first ODs from Berkeley Optometry.

First graduating class to receive OD degrees (first independent optometry commencement); Optometry Building rededicated as Ralph S. Minor Hall.

Monroe Hirsch (’40) introduces the modular system for training and patient care in optometry clinic.


Fiftieth anniversary year; Monroe J. Hirsch (’40), OD, PhD becomes fourth dean of Berkeley Optometry


Berkeley faculty play a pivotal role in persuading the state legislature to pass California’s first DPA law

Construction begins on Minor Addition (concurrent with fundraising campaign.

Professor Robert Mandell becomes acting dean (1977–78) due to illness of Monroe Hirsch.


Monroe Hirsch retires as dean; Professor Irving Fatt, PhD becomes acting dean (1978–79). Minor Addition completed (dedicated October 22). Berkeley Optometry establishes its first off-campus affiliate residency training program (Kansas City VA).

Period IV (1979-2010): Modernizing Clinical Training and Vision Science

Robert Mandell, OD, PhD serves a second time as acting dean of Berkeley Optometry (1979–80).

Jay Enoch, OD, PhD becomes the fifth dean of Berkeley Optometry.

Infant-Toddler Vision Clinic Established.

Berkeley Optometry establishes its first on-campus, one-year residency training program for ODs.

Special Visual Assessment Clinic (SVAC) established for special-needs patients.

Inauguration of three significant CE programs: Meredith Morgan Symposium (1986); Morton Sarver Lecture Series (1987); Berkeley Practicum (1989).

Students establish a Berkeley chapter of Voluntary Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH).


Change from Physiological Optics Graduate Program to Vision Science Graduate Program to reflect the multidisciplinary evolution of research.

Anthony Adams becomes the sixth dean of Berkeley Optometry.

Minor Hall Expansion completed (renovation of second-level and addition of two more floors in Minor Hall); adjunct optometry eye clinic established in new Tang Center (University Health Services; building dedication April 21).

Renovations completed in the Optometry Clinic (Minor Addition) Eye Wear Center (December).

Berkeley faculty/alumni play pivotal roles in persuading the state legislature to pass California’s first TPA law.

Seventy-fifth anniversary year (gala banquet June 13): optometry clinic dedicated as Meredith W. Morgan University Eye Center (May 23).

Dennis Levi, OD, PhD becomes the seventh dean of Berkeley Optometry.

Optometry (OD) program requires bachelor’s degree for admission. Pamela and Kenneth Fong Optometry and Health Sciences Library opens (Feb. 27).

Optometry curriculum becomes part of UC Berkeley graduate division.


The University of California, Berkeley Clinical Research Center established (Meng C. Lin, OD, PhD director).

The post-doctoral Berkeley Clinical Scientist Development Program (BCSDP) established (Kenneth Polse, OD, MS director) to train clinicians (MD, OD, DDS, DVM, or equivalent clinical degree) in multi-disciplinary patient-based vision research.


The Optometry Alumni Association of UC (OAAUC) reorganized from an independent organization to one managed by the School of Optometry (all alumni designated members of the OAAUC); Dry Eye Clinic established within the Meredith W. Morgan University Eye Center.

The Ocular Surface Imaging Clinic established within the University of California, Berkeley Clinical Research Center; the Myopia Clinic established within the Meredith W. Morgan University Eye Center.

John Flanagan, OD, PhD becomes the eighth dean of Berkeley Optometry.