Faculty Stories: Chris Wilmer

Dr. Wilmer

Dr. Christina Wilmer

Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs
University of California, Berkeley

To a generation of Berkeley Optometry students, Dr. Chris Wilmer is one of the most thoughtful teachers and determined mentors they have ever known. “She pushes students to have a higher level of professionalism,” says Ashley Craven O.D. ’14. “We’re held to a higher bar in her mind.”

As Berkeley Optometry’s associate dean for clinical affairs, this beloved educator now has more sway over what O.D. students learn and the opportunity to enhance their skills on a much broader level. “Dr. Wilmer was the obvious choice to lead the Meredith Morgan Eye Clinic,” says Dean John Flanagan. “She has a clear vision, not just for the clinic and our students, but for the future of the profession.”

A graduate of Berkeley Optometry herself, Wilmer joined the faculty in 1997 and has since taught nearly every O.D. student in the program. A former soccer player with a passion for coaching, she pushes students to be confident leaders as well as skilled and compassionate doctors. “The clinic provides our students the tools to realize their career dreams,” she says. “My job is to tell them, ‘I know you have the talent, you can do this.’”

As the school’s residency director since 2001, Wilmer has done just that, urging O.D. students to continue their training in highly competitive residency programs nationwide. Her impact has been profound — the number of Berkeley O.D. graduates going on to residencies has climbed from just a handful in 2001 to 35 in 2014, or more than half of the class.

“You can feel Dr. Wilmer’s passion for teaching. Every patient I checked in about, she would ask me questions to develop my thought process. She used every case as a teaching moment.”

— Dr. Ashley Craven, OD ’14”

Wilmer believes the transformation is a natural reflection of the caliber of Berkeley Optometry students and the rigorous training they receive — lauding the depth of the school’s faculty and the incredible diversity of patients that students see. But her colleagues say that Wilmer’s tenacity as a mentor deserves equal credit.

Dean Flanagan is excited to see how she applies that tenacity to current role, saying that one of Wilmer’s primary goals is to give O.D. students even greater access to mentors, other professionals, and top-notch
residency programs.

Wilmer remains deeply committed to helping students solve problems and develop a lifelong pride in their profession. “I chose optometry because we help people see and we alleviate pain,” she says. “There’s nothing more gratifying than that.”

Chris Wilmer helps Optometry students see — and realize — their potential. Give now to keep great faculty at Berkeley.

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