Herbert Wertheim

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Herbert A. Wertheim
Born (1939-05-23) May 23, 1939 (age 82)
EducationUniversity of Florida
Known forFounder of Brain Power Incorporated

Herbert A. Wertheim (born May 23, 1939) [2] is an American optometrist, inventor, billionaire businessman, and philanthropist. He is the founder and president of Brain Power Incorporated (BPI).

He has served as chairman of the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation since 1977; the foundation has donated more than $100 million to various organizations including the Wertheim Performing Arts Center at Florida International University in Miami. Wertheim serves as the Founding Chairman of the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, as advisor to The Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Florida International University, and as honorary chairman of The Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida.

Early Life (1939-1957)[]

Wertheim was born on May 23, 1939 in Philadelphia to Jewish refugee parents who fled Nazi Germany.[3] In 1945, he and his family moved to Hollywood, Florida and lived in an apartment above the family's bakery. He was diagnosed with dyslexia and started skipping school. His father was often abusive to him, prompting him to run away periodically. At age 16, he faced a judge on truancy charges.[2] He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1956 at the age of 17 and was stationed in San Diego. He studied physics and chemistry in the Navy before working on naval aviation. It was here where he made his first investment, buying stock in aviation company Lear Jet. Wertheim is married to his wife, Nicole, for 50 years[4] Wertheim has two children, Erica Wertheim and Vanessa Wertheim.[5]


Wertheim is a graduate of Brevard Community College (now Eastern Florida State College), Florida, and the University of Florida, where he studied electrical and computer engineering. He also received a B.S. in optical engineering and a Doctor of Optometry from the Southern College of Optometry in association with the University of Tennessee Medical School.


For many years he had a clinical practice specializing in visual neurology and optometry at the University Eye and Medical Center in Coral Gables, Florida. He was a distinguished lecturer in physiological optics and optometry at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and an adjunct professor of physics in the graduate program at the University of Miami, Florida. He also served as director of the University of Tennessee Medical School Computer Center. He was one of the first NASA engineers at Cape Canaveral.[citation needed]

Brain Power Incorporated[]

Brain Power Incorporated, founded in 1971 by Wertheim, manufactures over 4,000 products for eye care professionals and optical laboratories at its facilities in Miami, Florida and Rugby, UK. It is the world's largest manufacturer of ophthalmic instruments, cosmetic and therapeutic tints for eyeglass lenses and diagnostic products for optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians and optical laboratories. The company's business includes products for dyeing and tinting plastic eyeglass lenses; in 1983 it introduced ultraviolet-absorbing dyes. Wertheim is or has been a majority shareholder, served as the chairman or board member of 18 both privately-held and publicly-traded companies in banking, health care, aerospace, real estate, transportation and several diverse high tech industries. In 2011 he was awarded The Horatio Alger Medal of Distinguished Americans.


Florida International University[]

Wertheim served as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Board member of the Florida International University Foundation from 1988 through 2001. He was a founding member of the Florida International University Board of Trustees at its establishment by the Florida Legislature in 2000 and was reappointed for a second term in 2003. As chairman of FIU's Academic Affairs Committee he won approval of the University's Trustees for the Medical College and was asked to chair the Medical College Initiative. After a multi-year legislative campaign including community and university involvement, the FIU Medical College was established.

FIU College of Medicine Logo

In May 2009, the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation made a $20 million contribution[6][7] which becomes $40 million with state matching funds to establish multiple endowments including eight endowed chairs for the Medical College. In June 2009, the FIU Board of Trustees named the new college the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in his honor and named him Founding Chairman of the College of Medicine and Trustee Emeritus of the University.

Wertheim and his wife Nicole have enabled gifts of millions of dollars to the University's music, theater, dance, and business educational programs. These include the 585-seat Concert Hall and a 300-seat Mainstage Theatre at the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center (WPAC) at FIU.[8] In September 2013, FIU named the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences in honor of Wertheim's wife Nicole.[9][10]

University of Florida[]

In October 2015, the University of Florida announced the naming of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering in honor of the Wertheim Family Foundation's gift of $50 million, which will, among other things, fund an 80,000 sq.ft. Engineering Innovation building and foster collaboration between the University of Florida and Florida International University.[11][12][13][14]

Other charitable activities[]

Wertheim has served as a member of the University of Miami Citizens Board, Dade County Zoological Society, American Heart Association, Lighthouse for the Blind and the Boy Scouts of America. He was a founder of the Friends of Vail and the Vail Valley Citizen of the Year awards. He has also been a board member of the Vail Valley Foundation. He served on the board of the International SeaKeepers Society, an organization of yacht owners that collect scientific data using their boats and crew and then broadcast the data by satellite to universities and governments around the world.

He has served as chairman of the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation since 1977. It has supported hundreds of local and international educational, cultural, sporting and health care organizations around the world with millions of dollars in financial aid and grants. In 1987 the Foundation was the founding benefactor of the Koala and Asian River Otter projects at Miami MetroZoo.[15] It funded the building of the public radio station in Vail, Colorado and educational TV repeaters in the Vail Valley. The Wertheim Foundation was the first to fund a five-year PBS contract for National Geographic and ten other science and cultural programs for WPBT Miami Public Television.

Awards and recognition[]

In April 2011, Wertheim was inducted into the Horatio Alger Association in recognition of his personal and professional successes despite his humble and challenging beginnings.[16]

The La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology elected Wertheim to serve as a director and research advisor in July 2013.[17]


  1. ^ "Forbes profile: Herbert Wertheim". Forbes. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Berg, Madeline (February 19, 2019). "The Greatest Investor You've Never Heard Of: An Optometrist Who Beat The Odds To Become A Billionaire". Forbes.
  3. ^ Bell, Trudy E. (Fall 2014). "Herbert A. Wertheim: Bettering the World" (PDF). The Bent of Tau Beta Pi.
  4. ^ Berg, Madeline. "The Greatest Investor You've Never Heard Of: An Optomestrist Who Beat the Odds to Become a Billionaire". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  5. ^ . "Florida International University receives record $10 million gift for its music school Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article238106754.html#storylink=cpy". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2020-05-20. External link in |title= (help)
  6. ^ Vasquez, Michael (June 12, 2009). "FIU's $20M gift finally within sight". The Miami Herald. p. 1A Front.
  7. ^ Meadows, Gail (August 9, 1998). "Entrepreneur's Generosity Makes Wishes Come True At FIU". The Miami Herald. p. 1I Arts.
  8. ^ "History". FIU: The Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center. Florida International University. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  9. ^ "A gift of love: His and hers health colleges". FIU News. Florida International University. September 25, 2013.
  10. ^ Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, Annual Report, 2013–14, Florida International University, January 12, 2016
  11. ^ UF College of Engineering (October 1, 2015). "$300 million University of Florida College of Engineering transformation begins with $50 million naming gift". UF News. University of Florida.
  12. ^ "Herbert Wertheim uses family's philanthropy to spur collaboration between Florida's two major research universities". UF News. University of Florida. October 15, 2015.
  13. ^ Teproff, Carli (September 29, 2015). "Miami philanthropist donates $50 million to UF's College of Engineering". The Miami Herald. p. Miami Dade section.
  14. ^ "Local Philanthropist Donates $50M to UF". The Miami Herald. September 30, 2015.
  15. ^ Dunlop, Beth (August 3, 1990). "What's New At The Zoo: Amid The Mist And The Sounds Of The Jungle, You'll Discover The Fun Of Asian River Life". The Miami Herald. p. 13G Amusements.
  16. ^ Tasker, Georgia (December 11, 2005). "FIU's Biggest Donor Was a Boy with Holey Shoes". The Miami Herald. p. 1A.
  17. ^ "La Jolla Institute elects esteemed optometry industry leader to board of directors" (Press release). San Diego, California: La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. July 17, 2013. Archived from the original on April 19, 2016. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
Retrieved from ""