Manor Hall veterans’ housing project achieves funding milestone
As the country celebrates Memorial Day, University of the Pacific is marking a major milestone in its efforts to support student veterans.
In early May, the university received a $2 million grant from San Joaquin County supporting the renovation of Manor Hall. Home to Pacific’s Red Cross unit during World War II, the historic building will provide affordable on-campus housing for active duty, reserve, military-affiliated and veteran students.
The county’s grant, combined with another $2.2 million in gifts from Pacific alumni and friends, provides the $4 million required to begin renovations. Work will begin this summer, with move-in anticipated for Fall 2024—exactly 100 years after Manor Hall was built.
County Supervisor Paul Canepa, whose district includes Pacific, first learned of the project while attending the 2021 ribbon cutting for the university’s Military and Veteran Student Center.
Canepa, then a Stockton city councilmember, was inspired when Pacific President Christopher Callahan and Regent Mary-Elizabeth Eberhardt ’76, ’80 showed him the building and shared their vision. Upon joining the Board of Supervisors in January, Canepa jumped at the chance to advocate for Manor Hall.
“To provide housing for veterans and help the community while also supporting Pacific, it’s a win-win,” Canepa said.
His board colleagues, impressed by Pacific’s outstanding community engagement and eager to bolster its existing support for student veterans, voted unanimously (5-0) to fund the project.
In recent years, Pacific has taken numerous steps to become a more inclusive community for student veterans. Manor Hall is located adjacent to the Military and Veteran Student Center, which connects students with resources, offers targeted programming and provides gathering spaces. Pacific alumni have also created scholarships specifically for student veterans.
Former Army Sgt. Zak Baker ’24 cites housing as one of the biggest obstacles that many veterans—who are often older and more disconnected from their families than traditional students—encounter when transitioning to civilian life.
“Having dedicated housing will be incredibly beneficial to encouraging veterans to attend Pacific,” Baker said. “This initiative sends the message that Pacific is a friendly place for veterans, and that it takes their concerns about housing and security very seriously.”
President Callahan concurs. “We are doing everything we can to make Pacific an accessible and welcoming home for veterans,” Callahan said. “Manor Hall is an additional way to acknowledge their courage and sacrifice, and we are honored to have the county’s support, and the help of so many alumni and friends, in this important effort.”
Fundraising for Manor Hall began in early 2021, with a $1 million lead gift from Stanislaus County philanthropists John and June Rogers. Colonel Rogers is a retired Air Force pilot. His daughter, Janet Rogers, serves on Pacific’s Board of Regents, and the family has supported numerous campus projects, including the renovation of the Military and Veteran Student Center in 2021.
“It’s important to my family to support other military families,” Rogers said. “I’m delighted to see this vision one step closer to being realized for our students. What Pacific is doing for veterans, these are the things I and any other servicemember would hope to experience in a college education.”
In April, more than 80 alumni and friends donated to Manor Hall during Pacific Gives, the university’s 24-hour day of giving. Donors included veterans such as Navy Capt. Ken Garber ’84, who made a $100,000 challenge gift to incentivize early participation. Garber simultaneously put a call out to his Omega Phi Alpha fraternity brothers, who responded with more than $60,000 in gifts.
Student veterans are grateful for the outpouring of generosity. “Pacific has taken great strides to become more of a veteran-friendly university,” Baker said. “This is one more step of signaling commitment, and that’s amazing.”
To learn more about Manor Hall, and how to support Pacific’s student veterans, please contact Scott Biedermann ’05, ’20, vice president for development and alumni relations, at 209.946.2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.