This jolly bronze of optometry pioneer Meredith Morgan, seasonally attired at the end of last year, is normally capless — but equally genial — as it stands at eye level, day in and day out, in the lobby/reception area of the School of Optometry’s Minor Hall clinic.
The bust is by California sculptor Thomas Marsh, whose other works, often larger, are noted for their accuracy and nobility.
Its model was Meredith Morgan, who as an optometry professor for 33 years and dean of the school for 13, put Berkeley optometry on the map in many ways. His research helped layout a basic understanding of how the eyes work — and what can be done when they don’t. He was active in establishing a Ph.D. program in physiological optics at Berkeley, one of the first such programs in the country.
Associated with the Berkeley campus most of his life, Morgan entered Cal as a freshman in 1930 and started taking optometry courses, which were then part of the physics program. He graduated in physics/ optometry in 1934 and went on to earn his Ph.D. here in 1942, in physiology.
Morgan died in 1999 and is memorialized not only in bronze, but in one of the main reasons many students, staff, and members of the general public visit the school: the Meredith W. Morgan University Eye Center. One of his successors as dean said, “Hundreds of oprometrists and vision researchers viewed him as a mentor, a colleague, a role model, a personal friend, even a father or grandfather figure.” His general enthusiasm for life came out in his “booming, contagious laugh,” a recording of which was played as a feature of the clinic’s naming ceremony.