Summer Music Camp photo, taken sometime between 1945 and 1955The Holt-Atherton Special Collection

    Students at the annual summer music camp, somtime in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The camp is still held by the Conservatory of Music today.

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    Pacific News

    Pacific Celebrates 160 Years Serving California

    California's oldest university has a long history of innovation and "firsts"
    Patrick GiblinSep 19, 2011

    On July 10, 1851, a group of Methodist clergymen and church members petitioned the then-10-month-old California Supreme Court for a charter to establish the state's first institution of higher education. Their petition was granted and the institution was named Wesleyan College of Santa Clara. One month later, on August 15, the board members of this new college recommended changing the institution's name to University of the Pacific.

    It's been 160 years since those historic events, and a lot has changed since then.

    For example, the first group of students to enter this new university - a mix of 54 men and women - had a limited number of classes to choose from. They could take two English courses, modern languages, piano, drawing, painting or embroidery. Students paid $18 to $50 for each course and $8 per week to live on campus. By contrast, more than 900 freshmen entered Pacific for the fall 2011 semester. While today's students pay more than a few dollars to take classes and live on campus, they choose from hundreds of courses in more than 80 majors and nine schools.

    "From the day it opened its doors, Pacific has been a leader in higher education, from offering the first college courses to women in California to being the first in the nation to offer a four-year guarantee," said President Pamela A. Eibeck. "I am proud that Pacific's heritage and core values that created a quality student centered teaching institution are still here today and are still the driving force behind what makes this University unique."

    While Pacific was founded in 1851, its first students didn't enter the institution until May 3, 1852. Those early students focused on preparatory work, but soon were taking college classes. The first bachelor's degrees were awarded in 1858, when five men and five women became Pacific's first alumni. That same year, Pacific established the first medical school in California. That school became part of Stanford University in 1908.

    Members of Archania in 1989

    See photos from Pacific's Past

    The Holt-Atherton Special Collection on the Stockton Campus has preserved hundreds of photos. A few of those pictures, spanning from Pacific's founding through historic moments, are displayed here in a slide show. more

    Pacific has moved twice since opening in Santa Clara, first to San Jose in 1871, and then to Stockton in 1924. Between those moves, the University opened the first Conservatory of Music west of the Mississippi River, and it merged with Napa College in 1896, greatly increasing the number of liberal arts courses. It also changed its name to College of the Pacific. It would change the name back to University of the Pacific in 1961.

    After the move to Stockton, Pacific added schools of education, pharmacy, engineering, business, graduate programs, and continuing education. In 1962, it acquired the College of Physicians and Surgeons, a dental school in San Francisco. The school is now known as the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. In 1966, the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento became part of Pacific as well.

    The University has a noteworthy record of innovative educational programs. "Cluster colleges" were established in the 1960s to focus on international education. Raymond College opened in 1962 and focused on integrated studies. Elbert Covell College offered studies in Spanish in 1963, and was formed of half students from the United States and half from Latin America. Callison College opened in 1967 to focus on non-Western studies and offered a year of study in Asia. The national press lauded the schools as a breakthrough in education and President John F. Kennedy even wrote Pacific a congratulatory letter. By 1984, all three schools were closed as educational technique changed again. But Pacific continued its commitment to global education with opening of the School of International Studies in 1987.

    There were other significant changes. In 1969, the school dissolved its formal relationship with the Methodist Church. Pacific, while still affiliated with the church, would no longer be a denominational school.

    One year later, Pacific established the Community Involvement Program, which offers local minority and economically challenged students scholarships and support during their studies at Pacific. The program is still going strong today and most recently made national news when one of its graduates - Jose Hernandez - was a crew member on one of the last space shuttle missions. Hernandez currently serves on the University's Board of Regents.

    More recent milestones have included the first four-year graduation guarantee, in 1991 - an idea that has spread nationwide. In 2008, Pacific opened the Don and Karen DeRosa University Center, the first LEED-certified building in San Joaquin County. A year later, Pacific appointed its first woman president, Pam Eibeck, who had been dean of engineering at Texas Tech University. And in 2010, Maria Pallavicini became Pacific's first woman provost.

    Today, Pacific continues to thrive. In recent years, while many colleges and universities were forced to cut back on educational offerings and reduce class sizes because of economic instability, Pacific accepted the largest freshman class in its history last year and added several new programs, including a masters of engineering.

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    about the author

    Patrick Giblin   Patrick Giblin is the media relations manager at Pacific since 2006 and also oversees all social media for the University.

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