Arizona State honors Pacific President Callahan for 15 years of dedicated service

President Callahan with ASU mascot Sparky

President Christopher Callahan with ASU mascot Sparky the Sun Devil.

University of the Pacific President Christopher Callahan was honored at halftime of Friday night’s Pacific-Arizona State University women’s basketball game—a fitting tribute for a leader who has made a profound positive impact at both universities.

Callahan became Pacific's 26th president July 1, 2020, joining California’s oldest university after 15 years as the founding dean of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He also served as CEO of the university-owned Arizona PBS and vice provost for ASU’s downtown Phoenix campus.

“Chris' impact on the Cronkite School and the downtown campus can be felt to this day,” said Chris Fiscus, Arizona State University vice president for media relations and strategic communications. “His focus and impact at the Cronkite School are on display by the graduates who are now in the field doing fantastic work, and he'll always be a Sun Devil, even though he now wears orange and black.”

Callahan has brought his love of athletics to Pacific. He and his wife, First Lady Jean Callahan, are regulars at Pacific Tiger games at the Alex G. Spanos Center and other venues across campus.

Under his leadership, plans have been developed for a new state-of-the-art student-athlete and sports medicine center. The facility for Pacific’s 300-plus student-athletes will focus on the health of student-athletes while also growing Northern California’s only accredited athletic training degree program.

“As someone who has been at Pacific for going on 18 years now, we feel like we have a great president who supports athletics,” said Bradley Davis, head coach of Pacific’s women’s basketball team. “When you go back to where President Callahan came from, and you hear from the Arizona State people I have heard from, you realize how respected he was while there. It reinforces the fact that we are in a very good situation with the president and first lady. They support us so well.”

The Friday night game at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe was the first of three for the Tigers during the Arizona trip. The Tigers lost a thriller to ASU but came back to defeat Temple on Saturday. The Tigers will battle Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff on Wednesday (Dec. 6).

“It was wonderful to see so many old friends from ASU and my Cronkite School colleagues—and Sparky too,” Callahan said, referring to the Sun Devils mascot. “And it was a great opportunity to show the Valley of the Sun the remarkable students and student-athletes at Pacific. The players on our women’s basketball team, under the leadership of Coach Davis, are the perfect Pacific ambassadors: Smart, hard-working, dedicated and caring students who excel on the court and in the classroom and work together as a team. We are enormously proud of them.”

While in Arizona, the Callahans—joined by Regents Chair Mary-Elizabeth Eberhardt, Vice Presidents Scott Biedermann and Chris Ferguson and Athletic Director Adam Tschuor—hosted alumni, prospective students and their families and the basketball squad in their Scottsdale home at a Thursday evening reception.

“We were thrilled to welcome alumni spanning seven decades,” the president said. “And the prospective students and their families who joined us were able to see the life-long relationships students forge when they attend University of the Pacific.”