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Last modified: Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Irvin M. Borish to be honored with IU's Herman B Wells Visionaries Award

EDITORS: Irvin Borish and his wife, Bea, were long-time residents of Kokomo, Ind. They now live in Boca Raton, Fla.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University and the IU Foundation will honor Dr. Irvin M. Borish with the Herman B Wells Visionary Awardon Friday (Oct. 25) at IU's Bloomington campus. This award is given to individuals whose vision and entrepreneurial spirit have brought them to an extraordinary level of achievement in their professional endeavors and in their service to humanity.

A practitioner, a teacher and a researcher, Dr. Borish was called the most influential optometrist of the 20th century by Review of Optometry magazine after he was voted by the journal's readers as the Optometrist of the Century.

As a young faculty member at Northern Illinois College of Optometry, Dr. Borish was convinced that the future of optometry as a profession had to be based on professional university education combined with excellent basic and clinical research. Then and during his 30 years in private practice in Kokomo, he worked tirelessly to help schools and colleges of optometry to raise their educational and clinical research standards by affiliating with major universities.

He served on a committee that persuaded IU and the State of Indiana to establish the IU School of Optometry. From 1953 -- when the school was established -- until 1973, he traveled weekly to lecture at IU. He taught as a visiting or part-time faculty member at almost every college or school of optometry in the United States and Canada, and in several other countries.

Dr. Borish was a full-time professor at IU from 1973 until 1982. Soon afterwards, he was named to the first endowed chair in an optometric institution at the University of Houston. In 1994, the faculty of the IU School of Optometry voted unanimously to name its new Center for Ophthalmic Clinical Research after him.

He is the author of more than 80 articles and nine textbooks. Clinical Refraction, first published in 1944 and now titled Borish's Clinical Refraction, is still the Bible for optometry students and practitioners. He was the first optometrist voted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame, established in 1999, and he has received both of the American Optometric Association's highest awards, among many other honors.

He is the recipient of many honorary degrees and the holder of multiple patents on contact lenses.

As IU's president and then chancellor, the late Herman B Wells led the university for 63 years, shaping it into one of the world's great universities. He was known nationally and internationally as a leader in higher education and as a man devoted to the improvement of society through education.

Wells also served as chairman, vice chairman and chairman emeritus of the board of directors of the IU Foundation, IU's central fund-raising, investment and funds administration organization, from 1937 until his death in March 2000.