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

1907
California Optometric Association establishes a committee to petition UC Regents for an 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).

1910
George Schneider elected President of the California Association of Optometrists (forerunner of California Optometric Association).

1911
Associate Professor of Physics Ralph Minor lectures for first time before an optometric association (Alameda County Association of Optometrists): “Five Fundamental Phenomena of Light.”

1911–12
George Schneider twice elected President of the American Optical Association (forerunner of American Optometric Association).

1912
Ralph Minor lectures before Alameda County optometrists: “The Radiometer.”

1915
Ralph Minor gives a series of UC Extension lectures on elementary physics and optics (Bay Area optometrists attend lectures).

1917
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.

1919
Ralph Minor gives a University course (UC Extension) expressly for optometrists: “Optics as Applied to Optometry.”

1919
Meeting between optometrists and the University Course Committee results in preliminary agreement on curriculum.

1920
The University Course Committee submits curriculum proposal to the University Council.

1920
The University Council recommends a curriculum in optometry to the Academic Senate and UC Regents.

1922
George Schneider launches statewide fundraising campaign to finance the curriculum, raising $9,075 by the following year.

1923
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.

1923
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.

1923
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.

1923
The Berkeley campus narrowly escapes widespread damage from a fire that devastates north Berkeley (September).

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

1924
Milton Shutes, MD, becomes first physician (oculist) affiliated with Berkeley Optometry by teaching ocular pathology.

1925
First graduates of Berkeley Optometry: Angus McLeod and Hartle Tallman (BS-Physics and Certificate in Opt).

1926
Optometry Alumni Association holds informal meetings of alumni, students, and faculty.

1929
Revised major results in a BS in Physics-Optometry and a Certificate in Optometry.

1931
First female graduate in optometry—Jennie Chai Louie (Mrs. Harry B. Mew). Optometry Alumni Association of UC writes first constitution and bylaws.

1933
First optometry student organization (as a chapter of the Omega Delta National Fraternity of Optometrists).

1936
First Hispanic graduate: Julieta Arias [Burda].

1939
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).

1939
First African-American graduate: Marvin Poston. Campaign for a separate optometry building begins.

1941
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.

1942
First graduating class to receive BS-Opt degrees.

1943–46
Accelerated war-time program to offset shortage of optometrists. Clinic first opens to general public (1943; previously “campus public” only).

1945
California Optometric Association Optometry Building Fund reaches fundraising goal of $80,000. Ralph Minor, PhD named the first dean of Optometry. Ralph Minor introduces Berkeley’s first contact lens course.

1946
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).

1946–47
California optometrists contribute $80,000 for an optometry building; governor Earl Warren approves state funding of an additional $300,000.

1947
Gordon Walls becomes the first full-time vision scientist (non-optometrist) to join the Berkeley Optometry faculty (January).

1948
Twenty-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

1949
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.

1950
First PhD graduate (Elwin Marg, ’40) and first MS graduate (William Fleischman) in physiological optics.

1951
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.

1952
UC Regents approve the “Optometry Building” as the official name of former Durant Hall.

1953
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.

1955
Alumni establish the first pre-paid vision care plan—California Vision Services (renamed Vision Service Plan in 1976).

1959
Meredith Morgan (’34) serves as Acting Chair of Berkeley Optometry during Dean Kenneth Stoddard’s illness.

1960
Meredith Morgan (’34), OD, PhD becomes the third dean of Berkeley Optometry

1962
Henry Peters (’38) becomes first full-time director of clinics.

1966
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.

1970
First graduating class to receive OD degrees (first independent optometry commencement). Optometry Building rededicated as Ralph S. Minor Hall.

1971
Monroe Hirsch (’40) introduces the modular system for training and patient care in optometry clinic.

1973
Fiftieth anniversary year. Monroe J. Hirsch (’40), OD, PhD becomes fourth dean of Berkeley Optometry.

1976
Berkeley faculty play a pivotal role in persuading the state legislature to pass California’s first DPA law

1976–77
Construction begins on Minor Addition, concurrent with fundraising campaign.

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

1978
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

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

1980
Jay Enoch, OD, PhD becomes the fifth dean of Berkeley Optometry.

1981
Infant-Toddler Vision Clinic Established.

1983
Berkeley Optometry establishes its first on-campus, one-year residency training program for ODs.

1985
Special Visual Assessment Clinic (SVAC) established for special-needs patients.

1986–89
Inauguration of three significant CE programs: Meredith Morgan Symposium (1986); Morton Sarver Lecture Series (1987); Berkeley Practicum (1989).

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.

1992
Anthony Adams becomes the sixth dean of Berkeley Optometry.

1993
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).

1995
Renovations completed in the Optometry Clinic (Minor Addition) Eye Wear Center (December).

1996
Berkeley faculty/alumni play pivotal roles in persuading the state legislature to pass California’s first TPA law.

1998
Seventy-fifth anniversary year (gala banquet June 13): optometry clinic dedicated as Meredith W. Morgan University Eye Center (May 23).

2001
Dennis Levi, OD, PhD becomes the seventh dean of Berkeley Optometry.

2002
Optometry (OD) program requires bachelor’s degree for admission. Pamela and Kenneth Fong Optometry and Health Sciences Library opens (Feb. 27).

2003
Optometry curriculum becomes part of UC Berkeley graduate division.

2004
The University of California, Berkeley Clinical Research Center established (Meng C. Lin, OD, PhD director).

2006
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.

2011
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.

2013
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.

2014
John Flanagan, PhD, FCOptom, becomes the eighth dean of Berkeley Optometry, appointed for a five-year term. Renovation of the ground floor of Old Minor Hall begins.

  • The low vision residency is re-named the Ian L. Bailey Low Vision Residency in honor of Dr. Bailey’s 38 years of distinguished service as a professor, researcher and clinician.
  • Dr. Edward J. Revelli is Alumnus of the Year.
  • Renovation and modernization of clinic seminar rooms in contact lens clinic and teaching module C.
  • Chris Wilmer appointed Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs.
  • Total Giving: $1,690,639. Annual Fund: $316,725.

2015
Austin Roorda receives the inaugural, $3.2 million Audacious Goals grant from the NIH. The Meredith Morgan Eye Center hits milestone of 70,000 patient visits.

  • New magazine launches; wins campus award.
  • Opto-Camp celebrates its 10th year.
  • Dr. Stanley Woo is Alumnus of the Year.
  • The School of Optometry places 3rd among all schools and departments in UC Berkeley’s annual online fundraising event, The Big Give. The school also won the campus prize for most student contributors.
  • Total giving: $1,103,661. Annual Fund: $449,881.

2016
Berkeley Optometry wins NOA School of the Year award. Sports Vision Clinic opens to the public.

  • Levi lab explores virtual reality devices to open new frontier in stereo vision recovery.
  • Launch of the Private Practice Immersion Program.
  • Dr. Mike Patella is Alumnus of the Year.
  • Berkeley Optometry launches new and improved website.
  • Total giving: $1,444,453. Annual Fund: $721,265.

2017
4th year internship with Stanford Ophthalmology begins. New optometry center opens in West Oakland Community Clinic.

  • Professors Teresa Puthussery and Rowland Taylor join faculty.
  • My Optometry Internship Abroad (MyOpIA) Research Exchange Program is piloted.
  • Dr. Dennis Burger is Alumnus of the Year.
  • Clinic Student Innovation Award launched.
  • Total giving: $1,418,564. Annual Fund: $855,820.

2018
Launch of The Berkeley Outpatient Clinic in collaboration with UCSF and John Muir. Vision Science Training Grant extended for an additional five years for over $2M — not only the largest of the 37 awarded, but the only training grant in optometry.

  • Dr. Emily Cooper and Dr. Will Tuten join faculty.
  • 98.4% student pass rate on national board exam.
  • Berkeley Optometry accredits over 22,000 hours of continuing education.
  • Opening of the Dr. Pamela P. Fong Learning Commons and Interactive Classroom.
  • Dr. Lewis Reich is alumnus of the year.
  • Ten new assistant clinical professors join faculty.
  • Total giving: $2,357,259. Annual Fund: $1,234,693.

2019
Pre-Clinic equipped with new slit lamps, chairs, stands, stools, AV upgrades, and a demo lane via partnership with Haag-Streit. The Vision Science program conferred 15 PhDs for the class of 2019 — the highest number of graduates in the program’s history.

  • Marty Banks elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
  • New check-in kiosks improve patient experience.
  • Inaugural Alumni Student of the Year awarded.
  • Gift aid to students reaches $1.6 million; all students receive annual scholarships totaling at least $19,000 over the four years of the program.
  • Dr. Marvin Poston is alumnus of the year, awarded posthumously.
  • Dr. Nancy McNamara appointed Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs.
  • Flannery lab develops gene therapy to restore sight to blind mice.
  • Total giving: $2,935,273. Annual Fund: $669,385.

2020
Dean Flanagan reappointed for another 5 year term as Dean. Clinic remains open during COVID.

  • All classes and exams moved online due to COVID.
  • In a gesture that demonstrates the admiration, respect, and concern for colleagues, the Class of 2020 donates PPE to the clinic during COVID.
  • In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Berkeley Optometry begins offering Telehealth appointments.
  • In support of the BLM movement, students arrange gift for the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).
  • Dr. Flanagan begins his presidency for the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry.
  • Fredrick Mason Removed from Hall of Fame for beliefs and behavior wholly unworthy of the honor bestowed upon him.
  • Dr. Kelly Nichols is alumnus of the year.
  • Dr. Chris Wilmer Joins AAO Board of Directors.
  • Room 360 renovated to be a new classroom.
  • Dr. Jorge Otero-Millan, Assistant Professor of Optometry & Vision Science, joins faculty.
  • Total giving: $2,424,454.Annual Fund $166,330.

2021
Wertheim Foundation pledges $50 million to Berkeley Optometry. The school is renamed the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science.

  • Alumni giving surpasses $1 million for the first time in the school’s history.
  • Rolling admissions begin for the Fall 2021 Admissions cycle.
  • Dr. Marvin R. Poston Opportunity Fund created to support recruitment of underrepresented populations.
  • Dr. Tony Adams receives Lifetime Achievement Award for important and enduring accomplishments in the wake of his leadership of the school and the profession.
  • Dr. Mika Moy Joins AAO Foundation Board.
  • Dr. Janet Carter is alumnus of the year.
  • Four alumnae, calling themselves the fraternity of the few, identify opportunities to improve diversity and help launch a school-wide effort at Berkeley Optometry.
  • The 2020-21 academic year marked the 150th anniversary of the UC Regents’ unanimous approval of a resolution by Regent Samuel F. Butterworth: “That young ladies be admitted into the University on equal terms in all respects with young men.” Berkeley Optometry joins this celebration by honoring the women who have shaped our school, and the field of optometry and vision science.
  • Dr. Kerri Yoshiyama selected as a recipient of this year’s Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times Award by the Academic Senate.
  • Dr. Mika Moy appointed Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs.
  • Dr. Nancy McNamara appointed Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
  • Dr. Ruth Shoge joins Berkeley Optometry as Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, and Associate Clinical Professor.
  • Optometry Faculty Assist Vaccination Efforts.
  • 60% of the graduating Class of 2021 enters residency programs, the most in school history.
  • Total giving: $2,907,471. Annual Fund: $1,096,980.

2022
The $25m Our Future, Our Vision campaign is launched. Berkeley Vision Cure program is launched, with a mission to ensure that all children have access to vision care and vision correction.

  • Berkeley Optometry Program Ranked #1 in Research by optometrists, in an analysis published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Optometry.
  • Dr. Clyde Oden is alumnus of the year.
  • Dr. Gunilla Haegerstrom-Portnoy receives Lifetime Achievement Award for important and enduring accomplishments in the wake of her leadership of the school and the profession.
  • Launched the OD student Mentoring Program, with over 30 faculty members serving as mentors.
  • Dr. Herbert Wertheim receives the Builders of Berkeley award, honoring our university’s leading benefactors.
  • Berkeley Optometry professor Teresa Puthussery is part of a new project funded through the prestigious National Eye Institute’s Audacious Goals Initiative (AGI), whose aim is to enhance the survival and integration of regenerated neurons in the visual system.
  • The inaugural session of the Vision Science Summer Undergraduate Research (ViSUR) program, an 8-week in-person program that allows undergraduate students to work in a lab with a faculty advisor on a research project.
  • Dr. Jacob Yates, Assistant Professor of Optometry & Vision Science, joins faculty.
  • Drs. Sarah Singh and Debora Lee Chen appointed to Assistant and Associate Professor of Clinical Optometry.
  • Total giving: $52,227,502. Annual Fund: $1,068,461.

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