University of the Pacific, established in 1851, was California's first chartered institution of higher learning. Founded by pioneering Methodist ministers, it remains the only Methodist-affiliated university in California. Initially located in Santa Clara, the university later moved to San Jose, and in 1924, to Stockton, making it the first private four-year university in the Central Valley.
A History of Firsts
Innovation isn't just how we do things — it's how we've always done them. What can we help you do first?
- California's first chartered university
- California's first music conservatory
- California's first university to open its doors to women
- Nation's first to offer an undergraduate teacher corps program
- Nation's first to send an entire class to an overseas campus
- Nation's first to establish a Spanish-speaking, inter-American college
- Nation's first to offer a four-year graduation guarantee
Expansion to Sacramento and San Francisco
The university experienced significant growth and expansion in its graduate and professional programs under the leadership of Dr. Robert Burns (1947–1971). During that time:
- 1955—The School of Pharmacy opened
- 1956—The Graduate School was created
- 1957—The School of Engineering was established
The university also extended its footprint into San Francisco and Sacramento during this period with the 1962 acquisition of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, an independent dental school founded in San Francisco in 1896, and the 1966 merger with McGeorge School of Law, an independent law school founded in Sacramento in 1924.
Raymond College, Elbert Covell College and Callison College
Also in the 1960s, three new colleges were established that modeled prestigious British universities, Oxford and Cambridge, integrating faculty and students into distinct living and learning communities.
- 1962—Raymond College was introduced as an accelerated, interdisciplinary liberal arts program in which students could shape their courses of study
- 1963—Elbert Covell College was a unique inter-American college, comprised of 50% U.S. students and 50% from Latin America, with classes taught in Spanish.
- 1967—Callison College focused on non-western studies, giving students the opportunity to spend a year of their studies in Asia. These independent colleges merged with the rest of the university in 1982 — incorporating their personalized learning models, accelerated and interdisciplinary programs and self-designed majors.
- 1987—The emphasis on global education continued with the development of the School of International Studies, which was the first university-based undergraduate school of international studies in California.
- Pacific continued to advance its legacy of innovation and leadership under President Donald V. DeRosa, investing more than $200 million in facilities renovation and construction projects on all three campuses, and completing a successful $330 million fundraising campaign.
- Pacific also increased its accelerated program offerings, enabling students to complete undergraduate studies in combination with professional degrees in pharmacy, law, dentistry and business. At the same time, the university intensified its commitment to experiential learning, increasing opportunities for undergraduate research, internships, community service, and study abroad.
- In 2009, the Powell Scholars Program was introduced as a premier scholarship program for undergraduate student leaders
- DeRosa was succeeded by Pacific’s first woman president, Pamela A. Eibeck. Under her leadership, Pacific expanded student community outreach in San Francisco, Sacramento and Stockton.
- She also convened a host of community partners to launch Beyond Our Gates, the university’s first strategic approach to community outreach, which led to initiatives that focus on improving grade-level reading and college readiness in San Joaquin County. The county and Beyond Our Gates have been recognized five times by the national campaign for grade-level reading for being a leader in solving the challenges to early literacy.
- In addition, Eibeck is credited with solidifying Pacific as the global center of research on John Muir, the environment and conservation. Eibeck worked closely with Muir descendants who permanently gifted his personal correspondences, journals, notebooks and other valuable documents in the Pacific special collections to the university.
- On July 1 2020, Christopher Callahan began his role as president of University of the Pacific.