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1.2 History of the University

Approved by Academic Council on November 16, 2000; Provost November 20, 2000; Revised and approved by Academic Council December 8, 2011, Approved by Administration August, 22, 2012


Sharing their desire for trained leadership along with "mental and moral improvement" in their new state, the California Supreme Court granted a group of Methodist clergy and laymen the first charter for the establishment of an institution of higher education on July 10, 1851. Prominent among the original Board of Trustees were three pioneering missionaries, the Reverends Isaac Owen, William Taylor and Edward Bannister. Together with other leaders of the Methodist Church they announced the opening of California Wesleyan College in May, 1852 at Santa Clara, with the first degrees granted in 1858.

In 1852 the name was changed to University of the Pacific and it operated under this name until 1911 when it became College of the Pacific. As professional schools were added, the name was changed from College of the Pacific to University of the Pacific in 1961. The name, College of the Pacific, was retained for the University's central college of arts and sciences.

From its beginning, Pacific admitted women to collegiate level study, a radical innovation at the time. Men and women were taught in separate buildings, however, until the first coeducational classes in the West were offered as standard at the University in 1871. That fall Pacific moved from Santa Clara to a new campus in College Park, San Jose.

The commitment to professional education can be seen in the University's establishment of California's first medical school in 1858. (In 1882, it became Cooper Medical College and in 1908, it was adopted as the School of Medicine by Stanford University.) The first University affiliated Conservatory of Music in the West started offering classes in 1878. The School of Education was established in 1924 and in 1992 was renamed the Gladys L. Benerd School of Education in honor of the alumna's endowed gift.

Extensive development and significant academic achievements took place under the leadership of Dr. Tully Cleon Knoles, President from 1919 to 1946. The College moved from San Jose to Stockton in the fall of 1924, becoming the first four year institution of higher learning in the Central Valley. Later, adapting to the economic pressure of the Great Depression and then World War II, Pacific entered into an agreement with the local junior college district. Sharing its campus and faculty the College restricted its offerings to upper division and to graduate study. It rented facilities to the junior college, which provided freshman and sophomore education in the local community. In 1951 Pacific reinstated lower division work when Stockton College (now San Joaquin Delta College) established its own campus.

Dr. Robert Burns succeeded his mentor Tully Knoles in 1946 and presided over the period of greatest changes in the institution's history for the next 25 years. Pacific grew from a small (701 students) provincial liberal arts college to a nationally recognized University (5,534 students) with professional schools and three campuses. The School of Pharmacy was established in 1955 followed by the Graduate School in 1956 and the School of Engineering in 1958.

In 1962, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, a School of Dentistry, founded in San Francisco in 1896, merged with the University. Four years later McGeorge School of Law founded in Sacramento in 1924, merged with the University.

During the 1960's Dr. Burns introduced the "cluster college" concept. The first cluster college, Raymond College, opened in 1962, offering programs of integrated studies. Covell College began offering bi-lingual bi-cultural studies in the Spanish language in 1963. In 1967 the third cluster college, Callison College, opened and offered non-Western studies and a year of study in an Asian culture. In the late 1970's and early 1980's these cluster colleges suffered low enrollment and a decision was made to close them. By 1983 all three cluster colleges were closed. In 1987, the University’s emphasis on global education was reinstituted and continues today in the School of International Studies.

In 1968 the issue of the eligibility of church related colleges for federal funds was raised nationally. With the approval of the Methodist Board of Education, official connection to the Methodist Church was severed in 1969. The Board of Regents amended the Bylaws so that the Methodist Church no longer controlled Board membership. The

Board resolution also affirmed the University's pride in 118 years of affiliation with the Methodist Church.

The University's commitment to diversity led to the introduction of the Community Involvement Program in 1969. The program offers local minority and economically needy students’ scholarships and a support program during four years of study. Pacific's responsiveness to changes in society, together with its traditional dedication to academic freedom, openness and close personal interaction between faculty and students also enabled it to move through the turbulent late 1960's in relative peace and calm.

After Dr. Burns' death in 1971, Dr. Stanley McCaffrey became President. He was the first non-Methodist to be appointed to that post, although Pacific continues its relationship with the United Methodist Church and is officially designatedas one of the University members of its Academic Senate.

During Dr. McCaffrey's administration the acquisition of the adjoining junior college campus with its nine classroom buildings on forty-two acres led to a great expansion of the Stockton campus. Curricular developments also occurred. University College for adult-learners opened in 1972. In 1976 the Department of Business Administration was reorganized to become the School of Business and Public Administration. In 1995 it was renamed Eberhardt School of Business in honor of the Eberhardt family's endowed gifts. The School of International Studies began offering classes in the spring of 1987.

Pacific's commitment to professional education has always been undergirded by the strong liberal arts and science education offered by the College of the Pacific. The College provides leadership for the University's general education program, the Mentor Program, and is dedicated to the preparation of citizen-leaders who take responsibility for their communities as well as their careers.

In his introduction to the campus as President in 1987, Dr. Bill Atchley announced his goal of increasing endowments. The subsequent capital campaign raised the endowment from 14 million dollars to over 60 million when Dr. Atchley retired eight years later.

In 1995 Dr. Donald DeRosa became the 23rd President of the University. He initiated a process which led to revised Mission and Vision Statements focusing the attention of the Board of Regents, administrators, faculty, students and alumni on common goals for the future. Through close student-faculty relationships and challenging academic standards, Pacific will provide its students with a learning environment which integrates liberal arts and professional education and develops responsible leadership.

President DeRosa initiated a rigorous appraisal of all University programs in 1996. Recommendations for strengthening and modifying programs were developed. Numerous changes in academic and non-academic programs have been put in place. In 1999, the Center for Professional and Continuing Education was established and University College was placed within it. The Department of Communicative Disorders was transferred to the School of Pharmacy, which was renamed the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. In 2000, the school was endowed and renamed the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Pacific celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2001. The University community is engaged in major discussions at all levels on how it can reach the "next level of excellence". President DeRosa has established a National Commission of alumni, friends, and faculty to assist the University in developing plans for achieving this goal.

As it has since its beginning Pacific will seek to provide citizen leaders for the new diverse and multi-cultural society of the 21st Century. In continuity with its tradition and history the University of the Pacific will continue to be a pioneering institution notable for its innovative and creative response to the changes in educational needs in California.

University of the Pacific began its latest chapter when Dr. Pamela A. Eibeck assumed the Presidency in July 2009, after the retirement of President DeRosa. President Eibeck identified several priorities for the University's future: enhancing the academic enterprise; developing as a three-city and global University; enriching diversity and inclusivity; and serving community through partnerships at the local, national and global levels. Under her leadership, in 2010 the University launched the "Beyond Our Gates...Into the Community" initiative in order to forge community partnerships that improve social and economic wellbeing in our region.

Dr. Maria Pallavicini joined the University as provost in February 2011. Provost Pallavicini is leading a University-wide strategic planning effort to help Pacific prepare for current and coming changes in higher education, work and the economy.

In November 2011, the University finalized the purchase of a new building in San Francisco at 155 Fifth Street. The new campus provides the space and facilities the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry needs to remain one of the nation's top dental schools. It also affords Pacific an opportunity to expand its programming and visibility in San Francisco.

Books on the History of the University of the Pacific

Hunt, Rockwell D., History of the College of the Pacific, Stockton, California, 1951

Brewer, Kara Pratt,  "Pioneer or Perish” A History of the University of the Pacific During the Administration of Dr. Robert E. Burns, 1946-1971, The University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, 1977

Jacoby, Harold S., Pacific: Yesterday and the Day before That, Comstock Bonanza Press, Grass Valley, California, 1989