Michael G. Harris, OD, JD, MS, FAAO
Member, Berkeley Optometry Hall of Fame
Dr. Michael G. Harris, born in San Francisco in 1942, graduated from the UC Berkeley School of Optometry where he received his Master of Optometry (1965), Doctor of Optometry (1966, as one of the first four graduates to receive the School’s newly established OD degree), and Master of Science in Physiological Optics (1968) degrees. He is Clinical Professor Emeritus and Senior Lecturer Emeritus at the School of Optometry, where he has served as a faculty member for some 50 years. Dr. Harris is also professor of the Berkeley Emeriti Academy.
Dr. Harris received a Juris Doctor degree from John F. Kennedy University School of Law in 1985 and began lecturing, writing, and consulting on legal and ethical issues in health care, especially optometry, an area in which Dr. Harris is recognized as a leading legal expert in vision care and optometric jurisprudence.
Beginning in 1965, Dr. Harris, always a dedicated educator, trained thousands of optometrists, taught over 50 different courses in the curriculum, supervised 80 OD theses, and mentored 33 optometric residents. He served as Assistant/Associate Chief and then Chief of the Contact Lens Clinic for over 30 years. Dr. Harris was Director of the School of Optometry’s Residency Program (1993–95) and Associate Dean for Student Affairs for nearly a decade
A noted lecturer and researcher in cornea physiology and contact lenses, Dr. Harris is the co-discoverer of the osmotic theory for contact lens adaptation (1968–69) and co-author of the first scientific paper that proved gas-permeable contact lenses produced less corneal edema than hard (PMMA) contact lenses (1977). He has lectured worldwide and has authored or coauthored over 200 scientific papers and articles on contact lenses, corneal physiology, optometric jurisprudence, and other topics. Dr. Harris has also published four texts on contact lenses and contributed chapters on contact lenses and vision care law in numerous books.
Dr. Harris has served as a consultant on optometric jurisprudence, standard of care, ethics, corneal physiology, optometric procedures, contact lenses, and hypnosis to educational, professional, industrial, and governmental organizations, including the FDA. Michael Harris has also been active in civic and community affairs. He has served five terms as mayor of Pleasant Hill, California, where he has been a council member for 20 years, past-president of the East Bay Division of the League of California Cities, and Chair of the Contra Costa County Mayors’ Conference.
Among his many honors and awards, Dr. Harris was named the Max Schapero Memorial Lecturer (1995) by the American Academy of Optometry, and Alumnus of the Year (1999) and Peters Memorial Lecturer (2000) by the Optometry Alumni Association of the University of California. He was also the 2005 John F. Kennedy School of Law Alumnus of the Year. In 2003, the American Academy of Optometry honored him with its Eminent Service Award, and he received a Lifetime Achievement Award (2011) from the Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators. In 2013, the American Academy of Optometry awarded Dr. Harris a Life Fellowship. In addition to being a member of the Berkeley Optometry Hall of Fame, Dr. Harris is a member of the inaugural class of the American Academy of Optometry Hall of Fame. In 2016, Dr. Harris was the first recipient of the Berkeley Founders Award, the second highest honor the University can give for an alumnus.
Dr. Harris has been a generous benefactor to the School of Optometry and the profession. He is the grantor of the Michael G. Harris Family Scholarship Fund (1999), a Professional Student Support Fund (2006), an Excellence in Leadership Professional Student Support Fund (2008), and the Dr. Michael G. Harris Cornea and Contact Lens Residency Graduate Student Support Endowed Fund (2009) at the School of Optometry, as well as the American Optometric Foundation’s Michael G. Harris Family Award for Excellence in Optometric Education (2001), and the American Academy of Optometry’s Student Leadership Travel Fellowship (2002) and Harris Ezell Fellowship (2010).