University of the Pacific was established by pioneering Methodist ministers as California's first institution of higher learning. While Pacific has evolved into a non-denominational institution that champions the diverse beliefs of its students, faculty and staff, the university continues to honor its Methodist roots. Today, Pacific remains the only university in California affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
Pacific's history is permeated by a strong association with Methodism. On July 10, 1851, Reverends Edward Bannister, Isaac Owen and William Taylor (pictured left to right) oversaw the signing of Pacific’s charter. Until Robert Burns became president in 1946, Pacific’s first 18 presidents were Methodist clergy.
The university ended its formal relationship with the church in 1969 when a case before the United States Supreme Court threatened to remove federal funding for church-related institutions. Though the court ruled to keep funding in tact, Pacific upheld its decision to pull away from Methodist leadership with support from the church.
President Burns continued to foster close ties with Methodism and played a key role in the Central United Methodist Church's decision to open a new sanctuary across the street from the Stockton Campus in 1964. The church's unique architecture features a 130-foot steeple and an arched roofline. Over the years, the church has boasted prominent members such as Hall of Fame football Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, Pacific President Tully C. Knoles, and Don Biddle, renowned for designing and constructing over 300 structures for NASA and the Hubble Telescope. In 2013 the church established a scholarship program to support Methodist students at Pacific.
The Central United Methodist Church Endowed Scholarship for Bishop's Scholars awards $3,000 scholarships annually to Pacific students who are active members of any United Methodist Church in California, Arizona, Nevada or Hawaii. Nearly 50 students have benefitted from the scholarship since its creation.
Pacific welcomes individuals of all faiths and belief systems to our diverse and inclusive community.