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Our History

A History of Excellence Since 1904

The health care university known today as Marshall B. Ketchum University evolved due to the growing need to provide health care education in an interprofessional setting. Tracing our roots to the founding of the Los Angeles School of Ophthalmology and Optometry in 1904, we have become a new kind of health care university in response to changes in health care delivery. At MBKU, we focus not only on expert specialty training but also prepare practitioners to work in a multidisciplinary, collaborative practice environment.

Our Beginnings

The history of MBKU begins in 1904, with the founding of the Los Angeles School of Ophthalmology and Optometry that, over the years, became the Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO). As the third oldest school of optometry in the United States, SCCO has always been a leader in health care education. As the delivery of health care evolved to emphasize practitioners working together as a team, it was clear to the leadership of SCCO that the approach to health care education needed to change.

MBKU Founded

In 2013, the SCCO Board of Trustees approved a university structure that would allow for additional programs, naming it after the founder of SCCO, Dr. Marshall B. Ketchum. Soon after, under the leadership of President Kevin L. Alexander, a Physician Assistant (PA) program was added and later a College of Pharmacy. Our approach to health care education includes: 1) world-class education within each discipline, 2) interprofessional training opportunities and 3) learning that combines advanced clinical training with innovative teaching methods. In short, at MBKU, we train you for the future of patient care.

The American Pharmaceutical Association is founded.
Marshall B. Ketchum: Born on October 11 in Brighton, Ontario, Canada.
Marshall B. Ketchum: Studied pharmacy and graduated in Toronto, Canada.
Marshall B. Ketchum: Graduated from the Eclectic Medical Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1800-1900
1900-1920
1920-1940
1940-1960
1960-1980
1980-2012
2012 - Present
  • The American Pharmaceutical Association is founded.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Born on October 11 in Brighton, Ontario, Canada.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Studied pharmacy and graduated in Toronto, Canada.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Graduated from the Eclectic Medical Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Obtained a license to practice medicine in California.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to join the faculty at the Lincoln Medical College.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Began as Chief Instructor of the Lincoln Optical College.

  • The American Optometric Association is founded.

  • California’s governor signs the first law in the state of California recognizing and regulating the practice of optometry.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Moved to Los Angeles and opened the Los Angeles School of Ophthalmology and Optometry, becoming the proprietor and sole instructor.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum, MD, opens the Los Angeles School of Ophthalmology and Optometry in the Lankershim Building.

  • The school is renamed the Los Angeles College of Optometry and Ophthalmology.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Became president of the newly incorporated Los Angeles Medical School of Ophthalmology and Optometry.

  • The school is renamed the Los Angeles Medical School of Ophthalmology and Optometry.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Entered into a partnership with Dr. William M. Ketchum (his nephew) for the operation of the now Los Angeles Medical School of Ophthalmology and Optometry.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Transferred ownership of the school to Dr. William M. Ketchum.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Stepped down as president of the school.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Published "Ketchum's Lessons on the Eye," his only textbook.

  • The Los Angeles School of Optometry Alumni Association is first organized.

  • The "Reflex," a student newspaper, is first published and becomes the school's yearbook.

  • The school is renamed the Los Angeles School of Optometry and moves to the Wright & Callender Building.

  • The school is the first to be given an accreditation rating of "A" from the International Association of Boards of Optometry.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Ended his teaching position at the school.

  • The school becomes part of USC’s Department of Physics and Optics. A degree of Bachelor of Science in Optics is awarded upon completion of the four-year course, but is discontinued after three years. The school moves to a house on University Ave.

  • Ms. Carrie Hooker, the Dean's Assistant, rented a small house on University Avenue (across the street from USC) that would house the LASO from 1933 to 1936.

    The rent for this house was $50/month and paid by Ms. Hooker, as funds were limited at the time.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum: Passed away on April 17 at the age of 81.

  • The Los Angeles School of Optometry becomes a non-profit corporation and a board of trustees is formed.

  • Eugene Stead Jr., MD, develops a fast track, three-year medical curriculum that is later used to educate PAs. (Photograph courtesy of the Physician Assistant Historical Society.)

  • The Los Angeles School of Optometry moves to 950 West Jefferson Blvd. with a name change the following year to the Los Angeles College of Optometry.

  • The first Doctor of Pharmacy degree is awarded.

  • The first residency accreditation standards are approved by the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists.

  • The nation’s first “physician assistant” educational program is inaugurated at Duke University. The program accepts four former Navy medical corpsmen.

  • The American Association of Physician Assistants is established.

  • The Los Angeles College of Optometry is renamed the Southern California College of Optometry and moves its campus to Fullerton the following year.

  • The first certificates are issued to those who had passed the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE), designating the successful candidates as a “Physician Assistant – Certified” (PA-C).

  • SCCO’s first residency program is established in children’s vision on campus.

  • The Optometric Oath, authored by SCCO President Richard Hopping, OD, is adopted by the American Optometric Association.

  • October 6 is established as National PA Day.

  • California SB 1642 is signed into law authorizing PAs to issue written prescription drug orders.

  • California SB 668 provides optometrists the prescribing authority for therapeutic pharmaceuticals.

  • The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act is enacted, requiring medication therapy management services as an outpatient drug benefit.

  • All U.S. states allow pharmacists to administer immunizations.

  • The SCCO Board of Trustees approves a Master of Science in Vision Science degree program.

  • The SCCO Board of Trustees establishes the School of Physician Assistant Studies, the first PA school in Orange County.

  • California enacts SB 493, which allows pharmacists to be recognized as providers and deliver basic care services.

  • The SCCO Board of Trustees establishes Marshall B. Ketchum University.

  • The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant grants "Accreditation - Provisional" status to the School of Physician Assistant Studies sponsored by Marshall B. Ketchum University.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum University establishes the College of Pharmacy.

  • The first class of PA students begins a 27-month master's degree program.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum University acquires a property in Anaheim to create an interprofessional health care education facility, Ketchum Health.

  • On May 31, 2016, Ketchum Health Anaheim opens.

  • On November 11, 2016, the inaugural commencement ceremony was held for the School of PA Studies. Twenty-seven students received a master's degree as well as a PA certificate.

  • The first class of pharmacy students begins the Doctor of Pharmacy degree program.

  • MBKU's Health Professions Building – a 43,000 square-foot newly remodeled multi-faceted building that houses learning spaces for all three of MBKU’s professional programs opens.

  • College of Pharmacy at Marshall B. Ketchum University receives candidate status from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

  • In November 2018, Ketchum Health Family Medicine Clinic Opens. Patients from infancy to the elderly can now come to the Family Medicine Clinic at Ketchum Health for world-class primary care.

  • Marshall B. Ketchum University’s School of PA Studies Granted Accreditation Continued Status

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