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History of the College of the Pacific (1851)

When Pacific became California’s first chartered institution of higher education in 1851, it called itself a “university”—the University of the Pacific—a name it kept until 1911. In that year to recognize its commitment to the liberal arts at the undergraduate level, the institution adopted the name “College of the Pacific.” The College of the Pacific moved from San Jose to Stockton in 1924, nurtured its academic excellence and extended its focus to include graduate and professional education. In recognition of this expanded mission, the institution’s name returned to “The University of the Pacific” in 1961, replacing the name of the “College of the Pacific.” In 1962, the “College” returned to recognize the central role of the natural sciences, humanities, fine arts, and social and behavioral sciences in the liberal arts education at Pacific.

The decade of the sixties was a period of rising academic quality and educational innovation for the University. Amidst the establishment of the cluster colleges, the College began its own renewal with the support of the Danforth Foundation. The calendar was modified from the standard two semesters to two semesters separated by a one month winter term in January. The course system was adopted. Students took four four-unit courses each semester instead of six or seven courses with fewer units. The College adopted a new general education program, the Information and Imagination Program (the I. and I. Program) which was structured as groups of thematically linked cross-disciplinary courses. To assist faculty in the task of developing so many new courses an "internal sabbatical" was introduced, one semester of release time from teaching every four years.

In the late seventies and early eighties, the I. and I. Program was replaced by a new general education program based on distribution requirements. The closing of the cluster colleges led to the reassignment of many cluster college faculty to departments in the College. This process was accompanied by much faculty debate about the integration of cluster faculty into College departments with traditional major programs.

In the late eighties, under the guidance of a new Dean, Robert Benedetti, design of the current general education, the Mentor Program, began. In 1990, the University Faculty adopted the Mentor Program as a University-wide general education program. Today the College faculty provide the leadership and direction for general education for the whole University.