Michael Schermer

Eye surgeon Michael Schermer, M.D., in his Sacramento office. Schermer received the 2017 Cal Aggie Alumni Association Distinguished Achievement Award for his work to help others through patient care and local and international volunteerism, including efforts to expand the UC Davis Eye Center.

Making the world a brighter place Michael Schermer has helped thousands to see better through patient care and through local and international volunteerism, including work on behalf of the UC Davis Eye Center.

As an early graduate of the UC Davis ophthalmology residency program, Michael Schermer, M.D., credits UC Davis for being his bridge from the Upper Midwest to1the Sacramento region. Now a devoted Sacramentan, he has helped thousands of local patients to see better and enjoy an improved quality of life.

In recognition of this and other remarkable accomplishments — including a tradition of extensive assistance to the UC Davis Eye Center and to the blind and visually impaired both locally and overseas — UC Davis’ Cal Aggie Alumni Association honored Schermer with its 2017 Distinguished Achievement Award in February as part of its 44th Annual Alumni Award Gala.

The Distinguished Achievement Award honors a UC Davis graduate whose professional, personal and community service accomplishments since graduation reflect exemplary and outstanding performance, achievement and service to UC Davis and the community.

“Mike is always willing to provide support to get a project going and never asks for any credit — he’s a starter, a doer, and has been the catalyst for many key initiatives here that have helped us to better serve our patients,” said Mark J. Mannis, M.D., F.A.C.S., chair of the UC Davis Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science and the holder of the Fosse Endowed Chair in Vision Science Research. “He’s the type of volunteer leader that chairs dream will engage with their department to help further the mission.

“His level of commitment to the faculty and to patients with blinding eye diseases is unparalleled.”

Helping others directly and through UC Davis

Schermer completed his residency at UC Davis in 1976 and shortly after founded the ophthalmic surgery department at the Greater Sacramento Surgery Center. The accomplished eye surgeon has also been integral in the development of both the UC Davis ophthalmology program and the UC Davis Eye Center over the years, and has served as the first chair of the center’s executive advisory council from 2011 to 2017.

“I’ve been very proud to be part of the UC Davis Eye Center as a former resident, and it’s been a joy to watch it grow in size and prestige over the years,” Schermer said. “Our future is even brighter with Ernest Tschannen’s recent gift to name the UC Davis Eye Center building, which will help establish a brick and mortar building devoted to eye care.”

Schermer’s own efforts to build support for the UC Davis vision program also led to his recent recognition as the 2016 honoree for the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award presented by the California Capital Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, in conjunction with National Philanthropy Day. The award acknowledges exceptional leadership skills in coordinating groups of volunteers for major fundraising projects of one or more nonprofit organizations.

“Mike is always willing to reach out to his fellow alumni and donors to help foster participation and support for us,” Mannis said. “And he walks the walk — he and (wife) Shelly are incredibly generous donors themselves and lead by example. The impact of their generosity and commitment to helping others extends well beyond the Eye Center.”

Community and international volunteer

In addition to Schermer’s service to UC Davis, he conducts volunteer eye surgery overseas and has participated in medical missions to Mexico, the Philippines, China and Vietnam.

For the past 25 years he has also hosted a large group of blind and visually impaired Sacramentans for a day at the California State Fair — a tradition he refers to as “a party for the senses.”

“I really enjoy volunteering in the community, and the day at the state fair is my favorite day of the year,” Schermer said. “You’ve got to picture this: blind people driving bumper cars. I love having the opportunity to witness their laughter and smiles. It’s the most fun.”

The Cal Aggie Alumni Association — which serves nearly 250,000 UC Davis alumni — honored Schermer and six other recipients at its February alumni awards for their impact on the university, their communities and the world.

“Mike is the kind of person you want around in any situation,” Mannis said. “He’s the salt of the earth despite his many professional and personal achievements. I’m humbled and honored to call him my colleague and dear friend.”