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University of the Pacific
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Stockton, California 95211
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Inaugural Address

President Pamela A. Eibeck

24th President, University of the Pacific

March 19, 2010

 

Thank you Chairman Zuckerman, Regent Philibosian, and our distinguished Board of Regents.  Mayor Johnston, City Council members, University Presidents, University delegates, Cabinet members, deans, faculty, emeriti faculty, students, alumni, community members, and family and friends that have traveled far to attend this celebration.  Thank you for joining us. 

I would like to give a special thank you to Chancellor Emeritus Karl Pister for doing me the honor of speaking today. As a friend and mentor, Karl, you have touched my life in more ways than you know over the past twenty-five years.

I extend my appreciation to my predecessor, President Emeritus Don DeRosa, for leaving our institution so vibrant and strong, and for promoting a culture that puts students first.  Thank you, Don, for your fine leadership and the dedication you and Karen have shown to Pacific.

And lastly, my husband, Bill Jeffery, and I truly appreciate the warm welcome Pacific has shown our family since we arrived last summer.  Thank you, all.

Before I begin my formal remarks, I would like to share what brought me to the University of the Pacific.  I wanted to be a Pacific parent.  Last year, my son, Will, was looking for a college with a strong engineering program that promoted close relationships between faculty and students and offered hands-on opportunities and a great residential experience.   Having visited Pacific ten years ago as an engineering accreditation evaluator, I knew what a gem this school is and recommended it to Will.  Pacific rose to the top of Will's list of potential colleges.  While studying the Pacific website, I discovered that you were searching for a new President.  How could I resist dreaming about leading the ideal University?  And so Will and I both applied to Pacific.  It was a tense spring.  Will got admitted first, which was wonderful news.  And then I got "admitted," so to speak.  While Bill and I were delighted by the news, Will declared "Mom, you ruined it for me!"  We promised him we could make it work, but Will made the wise decision to be independent from Mom and Dad and attend Santa Clara University.  He's very happy there, but part of him will always be a Pacifican, and in many ways part of me will always be a Pacific parent.

In all the hustle and bustle of coordinating this year's extraordinary Inaugural Event Series and planning this installation ceremony, someone observed that it takes a village to install a new President.  She was absolutely right.  It does take a village: not only because of the size of the talented staff required to put on all the celebratory events  (and I thank all of you).  And not just because of the village of participants here in the Spanos Center. 

No, a Presidential inauguration takes a village because it's about the village.  This is our chance to gather together to celebrate University of the Pacific: to remember our achievements, to envision our future, to think about who and what we represent.  Today is about the Pacific community.  To the extent that it's also about me, it's about my commitment to this remarkable institution.  I am deeply honored that you have chosen me to become the face of our University community. But mine is by no means the only face that aptly embodies our University.  At least two others come to mind that exemplify what it means to be a Pacifican: two faces that illustrate how this place shapes individual destinies and in so doing transforms the larger world.

The first face of Pacific I will discuss is American jazz icon Dave Brubeck, Class of 1942, who inspired Pacific's Brubeck Institute, and whose archive in our library's Holt-Atherton collections is a precious resource for scholars worldwide.  Dave came to Pacific as a pre-med and planned to go on to veterinary school.  A ranch kid from the Sierra foothills, Dave gloried in the cowboy life.  He itched to get back to the land, back to the herd of cattle his dad had waiting for him.  But he also had a penchant for the piano.  He played for fun at a Pacific sorority house, and later for pay at Stockton nightclubs.  Jazz music excited him in a way veterinary science just didn't, and eventually his zoology prof leveled with him: "Brubeck.  Your mind's not here in the lab. It's across the lawn in the Conservatory.  Please go there.  Stop wasting my time and yours."

Later in his life he launched the celebrated Dave Brubeck Quartet, featuring the African-American bassist Eugene Wright.  When touring clubs and college campuses in the racially segregated South, Dave refused to play without Wright.  One summer he cancelled 23 of 25 concerts rather than work with an all-white quartet: a lot of lost income for a poor musician.  In 1958, the State Department sponsored the Brubeck Quartet on a goodwill tour that sent them behind the Iron Curtain.  According to one commentator, in East Berlin Brubeck's jazz sounded like an "idiom of freedom."  With his quartet, Dave had originated a polyrhythmic and polytonal style.  The sound was truly free: original, innovative, and daring. 

In so many ways, Dave Brubeck personifies Pacific's values.  Questioning convention and pioneering new solutions.  Taking creative risks.  Working collaboratively, and modeling good leadership.  Refusing to compromise ethical principles.  Effecting positive change.  Celebrating the arts as an expression of freedom and the human spirit.

Since arriving last July, I've had the chance to listen and to learn much about the University of the Pacific, and the ideals illustrated in Dave Brubeck's enduring achievements and ethical principles:

•·        In our three cities of Stockton, Sacramento, and San Francisco I met faculty profoundly committed to their students, their disciplines, and their mission as educators, who view teaching and learning as collaborative endeavors; 

•·        I connected with inquisitive students who appreciate the quality of Pacific's academics where mutually-enriching liberal and professional studies prepare students to pursue successful careers, lead fulfilling lives, and contribute to a good society;

•·        At Pacific I also discovered a team of professionals dedicated to supporting whole student education, where lessons in wellbeing, responsible leadership, collaboration, professionalism, multiculturalism, and sustainability occur both outside and inside the classroom. 

•·        I interacted with diligent support staff who work tirelessly to serve our students and our institution - whose smiles and kind words cheer us all;

•·        I encountered passionate alumni devoted to Pacific and grateful for the opportunities their education has afforded them;

•·        I connected with Regents who generously share their time, talent, and resources to lead Pacific into an exciting future;

•·        And everywhere I experienced the collaborative and collegial atmosphere that makes our

University a rewarding place to work and to learn.

I mentioned earlier that two alumni "faces" represent the Pacific ethos.  The first, Dave Brubeck, embodies Pacific's heritage - our values.  I want to talk now about our future - about how we will sustain and extend those priorities over the coming years - by way of the story of José Hernandez, Class of 1984.  Born in California to a Mexican family of migrant farmworkers, José spent every spring and summer on the "California Circuit," picking fruits and vegetables up and down the Central Valley.  Despite having themselves only reached the third-grade, José's parents placed a premium on their children's schooling.  After their son's second-grade teacher implored them to remain in Stockton for the school year, the Hernandezes made the brave decision to give up their way of life for their children's education.  José seized that chance.  Over the years he excelled in science and math, all the while nursing a dream to fly into space.  José entered Pacific's School of Engineering and Computer Science on a grant from our Community Involvement Program. While at Pacific, he won a coveted co-op position at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and a full ride to graduate school. 

After completing his master's degree, José returned to Lawrence Livermore.  But in 2004, he achieved an astonishing goal when he was chosen for the NASA Astronaut Corps.  And last summer, he fulfilled his lifelong dream by launching into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.  As our entire Stockton community watched, José traveled 5.7 million miles in space and orbited the earth 217 times.  No doubt his flight inspired countless other childhood dreams all over the world.  Back on earth, José Hernandez redoubled his commitment to community.  His Reaching for the Stars Foundation strives to ignite a passion for science and engineering in underprivileged youth.  José Hernandez's story is Pacific's story: his success results from a dedication to education, a commitment to community, and a willingness to dream big.

José's story also illustrates how we can serve a new generation of Californians.  Over the next decade, the demographic profile of college-age students in California and across the nation is going to change, and we can either change with it or risk becoming irrelevant.  For example, since 2001 more than fifty percent of babies in California have been born to Latino families. By serving and embracing our growing Latino population, we will empower talented young people to realize their promise, to give back to their community and to create an educated citizenry that will build an exciting future for California and the nation.  In addition, we must welcome and serve more African Americans, Asians and other people from the Central Valley's diverse ethnicities.  Not only will we help these bright and ambitious students to reach their potential, but our campus community will become even richer in the diversity of ideas, values and traditions.

But to achieve this goal, we must partner with Central Valley communities to address the specific and pressing educational needs of our youth for whom a high-school degree is now unlikely and college attendance is not even considered.  As José Hernandez's story illustrates, this will mean intervening well before college application time.  We will need to work closely with school districts, other colleges, communities, and families to prepare the way for disadvantaged youth to be prepared for and motivated to attend college.  At the same time, we will need to examine ourselves, as a campus community, to be sure we provide the environment that is welcoming and inclusive for all bright and talented people, regardless of their race or culture or nationality.

Since 1924, University of the Pacific has thrived in the historic City of Stockton.  More than 85 years ago, visionary city leaders recognized the importance of higher education for their citizens and their economy.  They campaigned to bring the College of the Pacific from Santa Clara, where we had been since 1851, to Stockton.  This place offered us a new start: room to grow, sure, but also a fresh energy born of Stockton's entrepreneurial spirit - a legacy of the city's history as a transportation hub for our growing state and the heart of the nation's agricultural economy.

The futures of Stockton and Pacific are intertwined: Stockton's successes help the University, and Pacific's strengths benefit the community.  This is a challenging moment for our city: foreclosure and unemployment rates are high, and high school graduation rates are low.  It is a moment ripe for civic rebirth, and we are well positioned to help.  By going beyond our campus gates, by listening to our community's needs and aspirations, we can determine how to build community partnerships that will become powerful forces for change.  To this end, and with the help of the Jacoby Center for Public Service and Civic Leadership, I am holding a series of forums on the key topics of healthcare, the economy, energy and the environment, education, and arts and culture.  These forums help us understand our community's needs and determine how best to address them, together.  This initiative can't be a success unless it results in long-term, meaningful partnerships between University of the Pacific and the community.

We must keep in mind, though, that while our region faces challenges, it also holds unique advantages:

•·        Our area has always boasted exceptionally diverse populations since it first attracted immigrants in the nineteenth century.  Today we live in one of California's fastest growing communities that is still a crossroads of the world, its population a vibrant blend of heritages and traditions;

•·        The richness of our region also derives from our lush environment.  We are connected to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a precious and fragile ecosystem whose fertile soil feeds millions and whose waters built the local economy with its inland port and inspired generations of artists from Jack London to Joan Didion;

•·        Our San Joaquin region was also home to the legendary naturalist and scientist John Muir, whose papers are part of our library archives at Pacific.  Muir's deep passion for and personal dedication to the natural world was the force behind our nation's National Park system and has inspired a new generation to live synergistically and sustainably on this earth.  His spirit lives on at University of the Pacific as we seek to create a green campus that embraces the principles of sustainability.

I challenge our faculty: how can we integrate serving our region to enhance social, economic, and environmental progress in ways that are aligned with our mission and enhance our reputation? 

For over 85 years our roots have been here in Stockton, but in the meantime our community has grown beyond this city.  In the 1950s and '60s, President Robert Burns recognized the importance of broadening our academic capacity.  During this time, Pacific founded a School of Pharmacy, now the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.  Pacific also absorbed the College of Physicians and Surgeons in San Francisco [now the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry] and the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.  The decision to expand the Pacific community turned us into a bona-fide University with broad and distinguished academic programs.  The addition of these three schools helped Pacific broaden its scope to educating tomorrow's professionals and extend its audience to include adult learners, while at the same time continuing to emphasize a strong, humanistic pedagogy.  

Recognizing the significance of community, as Dr. Pister discussed earlier: Pacific's sense of identity must extend beyond Stockton and our roots in the San Joaquin Valley.  Pacific McGeorge links us to the community of Sacramento, seat of government to the eighth largest economy in the world.  California's capital lays claim to rapidly expanding technology and healthcare industries, and it is home to six thousand non-profit institutions.  The Dugoni School of Dentistry is located in one of the world's most exciting cities.  San Francisco is a global financial center and a hub for international trade.  It is a leader in the biotech industry and a giant in global tourism.  The city boasts world-renowned arts and culture and it's a stone's throw from Silicon Valley, the technology capital of the world.  These communities are part of what attracts Pacific students to our professional programs in law and dentistry.  They provide internship and employment opportunities, and our graduates give back by contributing to the intellectual, economic, and social lives of these cities.

This exceptional synergy that comes from having a robust presence in three of Northern California's principal cities promises an extraordinary future for Pacific.  How many other universities can boast of providing an education focused on the individual student, with this breadth of programs and experiences?  We offer the intimacy of a small school with the opportunities of a large one.  How many have links to a city as urbane as San Francisco, as full of prospects as Sacramento, and as relevant to California's future as Stockton, let alone all three? 

I encourage faculty on all our campuses to continue to work together to realize the vision of a three-city University, where academic programs, scholarship, and enhanced learning experiences take advantage of the unique strengths of our three communities and meet their students' needs.  Pacific has already launched successful ventures such as joint research projects involving faculty in biology, chemistry, pharmacy, and dentistry.  We've come together in the dental hygiene program offered in Stockton by the Dugoni School of Dentistry.  Exceptional students are attracted to our accelerated undergraduate and professional programs such as the Pacific Legal Scholars partnership with McGeorge.  And in response to the increasing educational demand by working adults, master's programs are being offered in Sacramento by the Gladys L. Benerd School of Education and are being considered by College of the Pacific and the Eberhardt School of Business.  I challenge our faculty to explore even more possibilities that seize upon the breadth of minds, cultures, needs, and opportunities that exist across our three-city University.

As we work to model California's demographics, respond to regional challenges and opportunities, and enhance the prospects of our state, we must bear in mind that the Pacific community extends across the globe: not only in terms of the rich heritages of our Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco populations, but also our relationships with people and nations around the Pacific Rim.  We have a history of ties to Latin America: Pacific's Covell College, established in the early 1960s, attracted students from Latin America and the U.S. to live and learn in a bilingual environment.  Covell's inception inspired President John F. Kennedy to write a letter praising the "new vistas of enlightened international relationships" that the College would surely generate.  Indeed, Covell College was a tremendous success, producing over 1,000 alumni who are now staunch advocates of the reconstituted program in Inter-American Studies. 

Today we're continuing to broaden our international programs and connections.  Many faculty members are engaged in research with international implications.  Our pioneering and nationally-recognized Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship encourages students to address social challenges around the world with sustainable business solutions.  Pacific McGeorge is a top school in international law, and has just launched a brand new program for experiential education in China.  Also in China, the Benerd School of Education sponsors a flourishing master's program for Chinese educators.  College of the Pacific offers foreign language immersion programs in Guatemala and Italy.  Our Conservatory of Music teaches and celebrates cultural production from around the world.

I want to continue to push the boundaries of our University community across the Pacific.  We should be recruiting more international students, especially students from the Pacific Rim and Latin America.  Following the lead set by our School of International Studies, we also need to encourage more students to study abroad.  Moreover we must embrace multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism in our classrooms.  The world is shrinking and during their lifetime, our students will have to be able to navigate across cultural and national boundaries - whether within this country or between countries - to create opportunities and partnerships that transcend nationalist or racial or ethnic barriers.  Today's students are our future leaders and they must be comfortable working with people from other cultures, whether the Hmong in Stockton or Chileans in Santiago or Chinese in Shanghai. I challenge our faculty: how can you integrate international learning opportunities as a hallmark of your program's distinctiveness?  How will we, as a university, prepare our students to function across cultural divides so as to be ready for a global world?  

Is University of the Pacific capable and ready to take on these ambitious goals?  Ready to attract and serve the growing population of Latino students?  To reflect the broad diversity of the Central Valley in our student body?  Ready to embrace our abundant region, and to play our part in stewarding it through this new century?    To boldly expand our footprint in Sacramento and San Francisco?  To thrive as an international university by attracting students from across the Pacific and implementing a global vision?

Of course we are.  We have a history of innovation: first chartered University in California; first medical school and first music conservatory in the West.  We have a legacy of progressivism: first co-educational college in California, first Spanish-speaking inter-American college in the US.  We have long responded to student and family needs: first to match Cal Grants, first four-year graduation guarantee.  Working together, we have the vision, the talent, the core values, and the institutional range we need to meet and exceed all our goals. 

In closing, let me share a simple story about how a friend responded when I told him that I was becoming President of University of the Pacific.  Intrigued by our name, he remarked how bold, how audacious, of the University to lay claim to the whole of the Pacific, the earth's largest ocean that covers nearly a third of its surface!  I've thought about his observation - "audacious" - a lot.  In 1851, when our Methodist forefathers chartered Pacific, California's first institution of higher education, it took some chutzpah to call a school with one building a "university" at all, much less the "University of the Pacific."  And what about President Knoles and his enterprising faculty, moving the entire school to the unfamiliar City of Stockton?  Or President Burns laying Pacific's claim to Northern California by transforming us into a three city university?  And do not forget the young Dave Brubeck, dreaming up new possibilities for jazz music, and the young Jose Hernandez, imagining what earth looks like from space.  And how appropriate that under President DeRosa we relinquished the old moniker "UOP" to embrace our true identity: PACIFIC.  Audacious?  Absolutely.  Bold?  Unequivocally.  And we have demonstrated over the past 159 years that our founders' vision was not just audacious...it was our destiny.  We are University of the Pacific.