Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science (University of Michigan) records, 1951-2003 (majority within 1968-1990)
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- University of Michigan. Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science.
- The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science is a teaching and research unit of the University of Michigan Medical School. Records include chairman's topical file relating to the administration and programs of the department. The majority of the documentation is from the tenure of Paul R. Lichter, although the tenures of John Henderson and Bruce Fralick are also represented. Documentation relates to the administration and programs of the department, and the construction of the W.K. Kellogg Eye Center.
- 5 linear feet
- Call Number:
- 956 Bimu C46 2
- Finding aid prepared by Cory Brandt, 1994 Christa Lemelin, 2007. Latest update by Elizabeth Carron, 2018.
- Scope and Content:
The records of the University of Michigan Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science were received in two separate accessions. The first accession, received in 1994, is located in box 1. The materials received from chairman Paul R. Lichter in 2007 are located in boxes 2-5. The records consist of 5 linear feet, and are organized into two topical series: Chairman's Topical Files, 1951-1981 and Paul R. Lichter Topical Files, 1978-2003.
- Biographical / Historical:
The first chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, George E. Frothingham came to Ann Arbor in 1867 to serve as prosector of Surgery and assistant demonstrator of Anatomy. On March 29, 1870 the University of Michigan Board of Regents appointed Frothingham to the newly created position of lecturer in Ophthalmology. Two years later, the dean of the Medical School recommended that Frothingham be promoted to professorial status. Formal approval of a new position, Professor of Ophthalmology and Aural Surgery, was granted by the Regents on June 25, 1872. With this appointment, the University of Michigan was effectively establishing a new department, only the third department of ophthalmology constituted in an American school of medicine.
The department flourished during Frothingham's tenure. In 1878 alone, 33 cataract operations were performed at University Hospital constituting 55% of all surgical operations. At this time 90-95% of surgical operations performed on the eye were for cataracts. The demand for service was sufficient to warrant the addition of an eye and ear ward at the hospital in 1881 at a cost of $2500. This was the first such medical unit within an academic institution. The curriculum was formalized in 1880 to include three classes in ophthalmology: eye and ear clinic, ophthalmology and otology, and clinical ophthalmology.
Frothingham left the department in 1889 following an acrimonious, highly publicized debate within the Medical School over proposals to move the university's clinical facilities to Detroit. Frothingham vigorously supported the initiative. The inability to secure adequate supplies in Ann Arbor formed the basis of the argument in favor of relocation. One proponent of the plan declared, "One might as well undertake to raise oranges in Canada as to have a complete clinic in Ann Arbor." The proposal was ultimately defeated and Frothingham was replaced by Fleming Carrow in 1889.
The most significant development within the department under Carrow was the appointment of an assistant to help with ophthalmic education. This addition to the staff was prompted by the shift to a four-year program in medicine during the 1891 academic year. The 1890s also encompassed the first attempts at postgraduate education on the part of the ophthalmic faculty. Carrow eventually resigned over a dispute with the Board of Regents concerning restrictions on private practice for university faculty. He was subsequently instrumental in the founding of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.
In 1904 instruction in Ophthalmic and Aural Surgery was formally split to create one department for complaints of the eye and another to handle conditions of the ear, nose and throat. In 1910, an eye and ear hospital was completed on Catherine Street to meet the needs of these departments. Both departments were subsequently moved to quarters in the university hospital in 1926. This period witnessed the development of the "Michigan Rotation System" by Walter R. Parker whereby students in Ophthalmology would spend their first year of residency in the general hospital followed by three years of specialization in ophthalmic practice. This system proved popular and was replicated in other institutions.
This program reflected an emphasis on clinical service in the department. A focus on the clinical aspects of the program was given greater immediacy through the need for patient income. High fixed costs and emphasis on subspecialization in research required a constant base of financial support.
Following the shortage of students engendered by World War II, the Department of Ophthalmology embarked on a period of sustained growth. The number of residents rose from 6 in 1940 to 21 in 1975. By 1975, the department treated 28,000 patients annually. During the same period, the professional staff increased from 3 to 12 members. This growth resulted in a continual need for larger facilities. In 1952 the department moved to the University Hospital Outpatient Building. In 1970 several units within the department were relocated to the Parkview medical facility. Tensions resulting from the dispersion of various ophthalmic activities were resolved with the centralization of all ophthalmic services in the Parkview-Turner Hospital as approved by a Regents action request dated January 18, 1979.
Departmental growth was accompanied by an increasing emphasis on clinical service within the Department of Ophthalmology. Clinical aspects of the program were extended due to the mounting need for patient income. High fixed costs and an emphasis on specialization in research required a constant base of supplemental financial support.
Paul R. Lichter became chair of the Department of Ophthalmology in 1978. Lichter, a Michigan native, received his B.A. and M.D. from the University of Michigan in 1960 and 1964 respectively. He took his residency at the University of Michigan Hospital. In 1971 he became an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Michigan. He became a full professor in 1978, the same year he was appointed as department chair. Lichter's primary research interests are management of glaucoma and cataract, intraocular lens implantation, anterior segment tumors, and management of glaucoma in infants and children.
One of Lichter's prime objectives as chair was to consolidate the department, which, over the years had come to reside in several different buildings. As chair, Lichter was instrumental in the planning and construction of the W.K. Kellogg Eye Center.
Funding for the remodeling and expansion of the Parkview-Turner space was secured through a fund drive intended to raise ten million dollars for the department. A 1981 grant of four million dollars from the Kellogg Foundation insured the success of the program. The fund drive was completed in 1983 and ophthalmic facilities were renamed the W. K. Kellogg Eye Center in honor of the significant contributions of the Kellogg Foundation. The last phase in the establishment of the eye center was realized in 1985 with erection of an education and residency building for the Department of Ophthalmology. An addition
In May 2006, the Board of Regents approved a $121 million expansion to the eye center intended to make it the largest and most comprehensive eye center in the Midwest. The 222,000 square-foot building project was named the Delores S. and William K. Brehm Center for Type 1 Diabetes Research and Study. The Brehm Center was dedicated in 2010.
Paul Lichter stepped down as chair in 2012. He was succeeded by Dr. Paul Lee.
Chairmen of the Department of Ophthalmology (1872- ) Date Event 1872-1889 Dr. George E. Frothingham 1889-1904 Dr. Fleming Carrow 1904-1932 Dr. Walter R. Parker 1932-1933 Dr. George Slocum 1933-1968 Dr. F. Bruce Fralick 1968-1978 Dr. John W. Henderson 1978-2012 Dr. Paul R. Lichter 2012- Paul P. Lee
- Acquisition Information:
- The record group (Donor no. 8052 ) was first received in 1994. Periodic accessions are expected. Additional material was received from Paul R. Lichter (Donor no. 7979 ) in 2007
- Rules or Conventions:
- Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
- Additional Descriptive Data:
Henderson, John W. The University of Michigan Department of Ophthalmology: A Proud Heritage, (Ann Arbor, Michigan: The Department of Ophthalmology, University of Michigan Medical School, 1986)
The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Michigan, 1872-1999: a Heritage of Excellence, (Ann Arbor, Michigan, The Department. of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Michigan, 1999).
Related holdings in the library include the records of the University of Michigan Medical School and the personal papers of John W. Henderson. For further information about the construction of the W.K. Kellogg Eye Center refer to the University Architect's Office (University of Michigan) records.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Medicine -- Michigan.
Ophthalmology -- Michigan.
University of Michigan. Medical School.
University of Michigan. W. K. Kellogg Eye Center.
University of Michigan. Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science.
University of Michigan. Department of Ophthalmology.
Lichter, Paul R.
Using These Materials
The collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
item, folder title, box no., Dept. of Ophthalmology and Visual Science (University of Michigan) Records, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan