Notable Alumnus

Glenn A. Fry, PhD, FAAO

Although Dr. Glenn Fry was not an alumnus of The Ohio State University College of Optometry, it is necessary and appropriate to begin this centennial celebration of our year-long series of notable optometry alumni with his story.

He completed his undergraduate degree at Davidson College in North Carolina in 1929 and his PhD degree in Psychology at Duke University in 1932. Two years prior to joining the faculty at Ohio State, he completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the ophthalmology department at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. In 1935, Dr. Fry joined The Ohio State University as an Assistant Professor. Shortly thereafter, he was put in charge of the courses in Applied Optics in the Department of Physics, which was an academic unit within the OSU College of Engineering. He quickly grasped optometry’s potential in the Ohio State environment and worked tirelessly (some of his students and faculty wondered if he really ever slept at all) to raise optometry’s presence within the university, the state, the nation, and even the world.

How he went about transforming the optometry curriculum at Ohio State, as well as its professional stature both within the university and beyond, was a path with many steps. Key among the steps was his ongoing development of a strong and comprehensive professional curriculum, incorporating not only basic sciences but also the best of clinical theory and practice. He taught nearly all of those courses at one time or another himself, continually amazing both students and faculty with his extraordinary range of interests, from the mathematical complexities of color vision theory to the most detailed aspects of spectacle lens fabrication and frame design. He learned and taught his subjects so well that he was able to take and pass the Ohio State Board of Optometry licensure examination in 1937, even though his original training was as a psychologist.

As Director of the School of Optometry, Dr. Fry continued his strong research interest, which included such clinical areas as skiametry, visual acuity, and problems related to accommodation and convergence. Dr. Fry believed that optometry must play a university-wide role in fostering research in vision science. As a scientist, he took special pride in the formation of the Graduate Program in Physiological Optics (now Vision Science). During his illustrious career, he advised 45 graduate students (25 MS and 20 PhD students), more than any other optometry faculty member. Many of his graduate students became educators and researchers of great renown, and several have become Deans or Presidents at other schools and colleges of optometry.

Dr. Fry headed the optometry program until 1966, when he was made a Regents Professor. In recognition of his 44 years at the university--and his significant contributions to the profession--the OSU Board of Trustees named the optometry building in his honor in 1983.

Dr. Fry passed away on January 5, 1996, in Columbus.

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