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Our School’s Centennial Celebration

Centennial Celebration.
Centennial Celebration Event.
Centennial Celebration Event.
Centennial Celebration Event.
Centennial Celebration Event.
See photos from our Centennial Celebration!

On Monday, July 17th, members of our community gathered at University House to celebrate our centennial – the school’s 100th birthday! We were joined by UC Berkeley Chancellor, Carol T. Christ, who presented a speech giving thanks to our wonderful community members, and their many breakthroughs within the fields of optometry and vision science. Dean John Flanagan also shared a few words to honor the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science. Please see below for both Chancellor Christ’s and Dean Flanagan’s speeches.

“Welcome everyone to University House. I am Chancellor Carol Christ and it is my pleasure to be able to celebrate this amazing milestone of 100 years with you. It is hard to believe that when the idea of an optic focused program was being dreamed about a hundred years ago, Professor Ralph Minor was a physics professor at Berkeley. He lectured on elementary and physics and optics. Professor Minor worked with a number of other faculty in the department to create the optometry curriculum and the department started in the physics building. The course of study was formally adopted by the UC Regents on July 12, 1923 and courses began a few weeks later on campus on August 17. In 1925, the campus celebrated the first two graduates with a BS-Physics and certificate in optometry. In 1939, Optometry was established as a formal department in the College of Letters and Science – with graduates receiving a BS in Optometry. In 1941, the regents would approve a School of Optometry. In the early 1950’s, the school would produce its first PhD and Masters candidates. In the 1970’s the OD degree would be established.

Throughout this time – faculty and students worked together to shape what the field of optometry means and to find ways to make research and findings accessible to all communities. In 2021, the Wertheim Foundation pledge $50 million to the school, resulting in the current name of the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science. Which brings us to today – a chance to celebrate the amazing achievements of the past 100 years. It has been a journey with Berkeley leading the way in research and development in the fields. Now we begin to imagine what the Berkeley Optometry community will do to change the world in the next hundred years with your cutting edge research and commitment to patients. I am very proud to be able to celebrate this momentous occasion with all of you.” – Chancellor Carol T. Christ

“Thank you Chancellor Christ for the introduction as well as hosting this momentous occasion for the school at University House, a truly unique and special opportunity and experience for our entire community. Welcome to our emeriti and special guests our Alumni Board, along with our staff and faculty. We are in an exciting time for our profession and for Berkeley Optometry and Vision Science. The future of the profession has never been more exciting and the demand for eye care and vision health has never been higher.

As we celebrate our exceptional history, together we have the responsibility to not only ensure our school builds on the last 100 years to ensure educational, clinical and research excellence, but that we lead the profession and vision science into its next 100 years. We will grow our clinical footprint, we will grow our residency program, we will ensure the best vision research program, and we will ensure that we find solutions to access and health care disparities, as a diverse and welcoming community that reflects the society we serve. Our past is one to be proud of, our future is bright. I ask you to raise your glasses. To Chancellor Christ, thank you, and to the future Berkeley Optometry and Vision Science. Go Optometry, Go Bears and Fiat Lux!” – Dean John Flanagan

To see more photos from the event on Box, please click the button below! Photos by Keegan Houser.