First curriculum in optometry begins August 17, 1923 (headed by Ralph Minor, PhD) Class and laboratory spaces allotted in third floor (attic) and basement of Le Conte Hall (Department of Physics).
Dr. Jennie Chai Louie Mew, Class of 1931, was the first woman, first Asian woman, and youngest graduate to earn a degree from Berkeley Optometry.
The class of ‘42 was the first class to receive BS-Opt degrees. 1942 was also the year Presidential Executive Order 9066 was signed, forcing “all persons of Japanese ancestry” in Berkeley to prepare for their removal to internment camps. In 2009, former UC Berkeley students, who were by then in their 80s and 90s, finally received the campus degrees they had been working toward when they were sent to internment camps.
Students conducting visual function studies in the physiological optics laboratory. They are using haploscopes mounted on laboratory tables, c 1952-58.
In the early 1960s, the dispensary was a former classroom with a row of narrow tables where patients could sample eyewear. Here, senior optician Rodney Thomas assists a patient.
The Optometry Building is rededicated as Ralph S. Minor Hall in 1971. During the 1970s, the ground-floor hallway was remodeled as a clinic waiting area.
Irving Fatt received the prestigious Berkeley Citation in 1984. He is seen here conducting one of his many oxygen-flow experiments.
Minor Hall Expansion completed (renovation of second-level and addition of two more floors in Minor Hall) in 1993, and an adjunct optometry eye clinic was established in the new Tang Center.
In 2001, Dennis Levi, OD, PhD, became the seventh dean of Berkeley Optometry. Research in the Levi lab currently focuses on how we perceive visual forms and patterns, and how form perception is degrade by abnormal visual experience early in life (amblyopia).
Dr. Marvin Poston is alumnus of the year, awarded posthumously in 2019. A 1939 graduate of Berkeley Optometry, Dr. Poston was the first black optometrist to receive his training at Berkeley, and is nationally recognized and respected for his roles as an optometrist, legislative and optometric professional, pioneering African-American, role model for minority youth, community leader, and statesman.
In 2021 the Wertheim Foundation pledges $50 million to Berkeley Optometry. The school is renamed the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science.
Berkeley Optometry Timeline
Period I (1907-1923): Establishing an Optometry Curriculum
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).
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
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. Ralph 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).
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
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Dr. Kelly Nichols 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.
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.