The department of Ophthalmology at Washington University School of Medicine was established in 1928, with Harvey J. Howard, M.D. as the first full time chairman.
In 1929, Mrs. Eliza McMillan bequeathed over one million dollars to establish an eye, ear, nose and throat hospital at the University. During the same year, the Oscar Johnson family donated five-hundred thousand dollars for an institute of research and teaching in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, and the Rockefeller Foundation provided 1.2 million dollars for an endowment to begin a department of ophthalmology and otolaryngology at the University.
The cornerstone of the McMillan building was laid on May 14, 1930, with construction being completed in 1943. The building housed the department’s largest patient office for 58 years. The administrative, research and education functions continue to occupy a large portion of the McMillan building today. The department consists of 49 full time faculty members, including 36 clinicians practicing at 8 office locations, and 20 PhD or MD researchers.