History & Mission

Mission Statement

University of the Pacific's mission is to provide a superior, student-centered learning experience integrating liberal arts and
professional education and preparing individuals for lasting achievement and responsible leadership in their careers and communities.

HistoryClass of 1889

University of the Pacific is an independent, coeducational university serving nearly 6,300 students on three campuses in Stockton, San Francisco and Sacramento. It was established by pioneering Methodist ministers in 1851 as California's first chartered institution of higher learning. Pacific has earned widespread recognition for its deep commitment to teaching and learning, its history of innovation, and the accomplishments of its 60,000 alumni.

As an innovator and leader in higher education, Pacific provided the state with its first chartered medical school in 1858 (which later became part of Stanford, and today is California Pacific Medical Center); its first coeducational campus in 1871; and its first conservatory of music in 1878. 

Conservatory of MusicIt was the nation's first to offer an undergraduate teacher corps program, the first to send an entire class to an overseas campus, the first to establish a Spanish-speaking inter-American college, and the first to offer a four-year graduation guarantee. With its move from San Jose to Stockton in 1924, Pacific became the first private four-year university in the Central Valley. Shortly after occupying the new campus, Pacific established one of California's earliest schools of education. In 1992 it was renamed the Gladys L. Benerd School of Education in honor of the alumna's endowed gift.

Pacific has enjoyed extraordinary stability in administration. Dr. Pamela A. Eibeck began her service in 2009 as the sixth president since the university's move to Stockton in 1924 and the 24th since its founding in 1851.

First Stockton campus buildings

The university experienced its greatest growth and an expansion into graduate and professional education under the administration of Dr. Robert Burns (1947-1971). The School of Pharmacy opened in 1955. It is now the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in honor of the Pacific benefactor and Regent who co-founded the former Longs Drugs Stores. In 1956 the graduate school was created, and in 1957 the School of Engineering was established. The Department of Computer Science joined the school in 2002, and the school was subsequently renamed the School of Engineering and Computer Science.

In 1962, the university acquired the College of Physicians and Surgeons, a school of dentistry founded in San Francisco in 1896. In 2004, the school was named the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in honor of its dean of 28 years. It was the first time any university in the United States or Canada had named its dental school for the current dean.

Building Burns Tower, once the tallest building in StocktonThree new cluster colleges were established at Pacific in the 1960s, in the model of British universities such as Oxford and Cambridge. These colleges integrated faculty and students into distinct living and learning communities. Raymond College, established in 1962, was an accelerated, interdisciplinary liberal arts program in which students shaped their own courses of study. Elbert Covell College, established in 1963, was a unique inter-American college. Half the students were from the U.S. and half from Latin America, with classes taught in Spanish. Callison College, established in 1967, focused on non-Western studies with a year of study in an Asian culture. The cluster colleges were absorbed into the rest of the university in 1982. Their values, including a close-knit learning community, accelerated and interdisciplinary programs, and self-designed majors, have left a lasting impact on Pacific. Their emphasis on global education continued in the School of International Studies, founded in 1987 as the first university-based undergraduate school of international studies in California. In 2012, the School of International Studies, while retaining its autonomy as a school, became part of the College of the Pacific.

In 1966, Pacific broadened its footprint to Sacramento when McGeorge College of Law, an independent law school founded in Sacramento in 1924, merged with the university as the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. In 1977, the department of business administration in College of the Pacific was reorganized as 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. Programs designed specifically for adult re-entry students were reorganized and revitalized in 1985 through University College, now the Center for Professional and Continuing Education.

Over the last 20 years, Pacific has advanced its legacy of innovation and leadership. Under the leadership of President Donald V. DeRosa (1995-2009), the university invested more than $200 million in facilities renovation and construction projects on all three campuses. Pacific also increased distinctive accelerated programs that enabled students to complete undergraduate studies in combination with professional degrees in pharmacy, law, dentistry and business. The university intensified its commitment to experiential learning, including Pacific undergraduate research, internships, community service and education abroad. Pacific also launched the Brubeck Institute, dedicated to building on the legacy of Dave Brubeck '42, and the Powell Scholars Program, a premier scholarship program for undergraduate student leaders.

Pacific Today

Under the stewardship of Pacific's current president, Pamela A. Eibeck, Pacific is expanding its presence in Sacramento and San Francisco and implementing a bold new strategic vision, Pacific 2020. This vision capitalizes on Pacific's highly regarded academic programs, formative student-teacher relationships and multiple locations to position University of the Pacific to become the best teaching-focused university in California - the first choice for talented students who want excellent programs, close working relationships with faculty, a challenging but supportive learning environment, and an exciting future after graduation.

Knoles HallIn 2013, the university received a transformational gift of $125 million from the estate of the late Regents Robert and Jeannette Powell. The Powells were ardent champions of the university's educational mission, and great advocates for access and excellence. In accordance with their wishes, their gift has been endowed and earmarked largely for scholarships and academic programs. A large portion of the gift is being used to encourage others to make endowment gifts through the Powell Match Program. Our donors' generosity and passion for Pacific will mean that generations of students will be able to achieve a superior education.

Pacific is leveraging its presence in three of Northern California's most prominent cities. In July 2014, the university opened a stunning new campus in San Francisco at 155 Fifth Street. The campus provides the requisite space and facilities for the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry to continue defining the frontiers of dental education. It also expands Pacific's educational footprint and visibility in San Francisco in the health, technology and arts and culture sectors. New academic programs in analytics, audiology, music therapy and food studies began in fall 2015, and additional new programs will be added in the coming years. Pacific's Sacramento Campus is also expanding, offering exciting academic programs at the intersection of law, policy, business, education and health. Anchored by the McGeorge School of Law, the campus is adding graduate academic programs keyed to the needs of a metropolitan region, charting a bold future. A Master of Science in Law degree is now available through the McGeorge School of Law. New graduate programs in business and education launched in 2015 and new graduate programs in public policy and public administration, physician assistant studies and analytics will begin in 2016 and 2017.

Beyond Our GatesPresident Eibeck has made community engagement a priority for the university. In 2010, Pacific launched the "Beyond Our Gates...Into the Community" initiative in order to forge community partnerships that improve lives in our region. As part of Beyond Our Gates, some 50 community partners have united in an effort to improve early literacy. The Beyond Our Gates Reading by Third campaign recently received a grant from The James Irvine Foundation to strengthen early literacy programs in the San Joaquin Valley, while the Beyond Our Gates Community Council, an advisory board comprising local leaders, has garnered national attention. Through the work of the council, San Joaquin County has been designated a Community Pacesetter in the area of early literacy by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. San Joaquin County has also been named a GradNation Community by the America's Promise Alliance in recognition of efforts to increase high school graduation rates.

Pacific's schools and programs also serve the community in important ways through health and dental clinics, legal clinics and community service. In the 2014-15 academic year, the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry provided $10 million in uncompensated dental care to patients; students at the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences volunteered an estimated 30,000 hours to provide health-related services to the community; the McGeorge School of Law legal clinics provided free services to hundreds of clients; and student volunteers on the Stockton Campus gave more than 7,600 hours of community service.

On July 1, 2013, University of the Pacific rejoined the West Coast Conference. A founding member of the conference, Pacific shares its sister institutions' long tradition in intercollegiate athletics and their dedication to high-quality academics and athletic success.

Pacific continues to enjoy national recognition for its leadership in higher education, consistently ranked among the best national universities and as a "Best Value" by U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review. U.S. News also ranks Pacific very high (No.15) for ethnic diversity. The Economist and The Brookings Institution have ranked Pacific the No. 3 best value college or university in California. It is among the top 10 schools in the nation whose graduates exceed expected earnings, according to an analysis by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. 

The university remains deeply committed to its personal, student-centered approach. Faculty and staff are dedicated to excellence in teaching. Close faculty mentoring, a rich blend of liberal arts and professional education, and a broad array of experiential learning activities that prepare students for lasting achievement are hallmarks of the Pacific experience.