Pacific celebrates Class of 2024 and its ‘passion for learning’

All-University Commencement

All-university commencement and degree conferral | Saturday, May 11, 2024

University of the Pacific, California’s first and oldest university, honored hundreds of graduating students with a joyous celebration surrounded by family and friends Saturday on historic Knoles Lawn.

President Christopher Callahan praised graduates for their steadfast determination and commitment to learning.

“You have faced hurdles that Pacificans before you simply did not have to face,” Callahan said. “You had to navigate the unprecedented disruption of life caused by a global pandemic … You not only met new challenges; you thrived.

“You showed unbelievable strength, courage, resilience, adaptability and creativity. You continued your passion for learning at the highest levels despite these tremendous obstacles. In short, you refused to let anything get in the way of your hopes and dreams.”

Pacific presented its highest honor, Order of Pacific, to former Regent Virginia Chan ’77 and four retiring faculty, College of the Pacific Professor Peg Ciccolella and Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry Professors Eve Cuny, Cindy Lyon ’86, ’09 and Allen Wong ’83, ’86, ’09.

Alumnus and former regent Steven Goulart ’80 received an honorary Doctor of Business Administration. Goulart retired in 2023 from MetLife Inc. where he was executive vice president and chief investment officer.

He offered graduates three words to remember from the day—learn, earn and return. “Those three words have become how I view my life’s journey,” he said, crediting a mentor with the advice.

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Gretchen Edwalds-Gilbert presented the Distinguished Faculty award to Professor of Pharmacy Mamoun M. Alhamadsheh, who said he was deeply honored for the recognition.

“As a teacher, my aim has always been to create an environment where students can apply the foundational chemistry in a clinical setting,” he said. “This approach ensures that our graduates are well prepared to meet the evolving demand of health care.”

The honor of making the final remarks was reserved for the student speaker, ASuop student government Vice President Cynia Manning ’24.

“We are not just graduates of the university, we are subjects of humanity. We are champions of change. We are participants of hope. And we are the leaders of tomorrow,” Manning said. “As you walk across the stage later today, consider the ones who are not afforded this opportunity to be where you are. College is a privilege, but education is a necessity.”

Also in attendance were alumni from the class of 1974 who were celebrating their 50th reunion. They joined the procession for the traditional Memorial Rose Walk in honor of classmates who have died. The walk was led by Henry Hirata, a 1964 graduate of the School of Engineering and Computer Science, who has established two scholarships for students.

Diploma and hooding ceremonies followed for Benerd College, College of the Pacific, Conservatory of Music, Eberhardt School of Business and School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Nearly 1,500 students earned degrees this year.

Other schools will hold celebrations in the coming weeks, including School of Health Sciences and Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy (May 18), McGeorge School of Law (May 25) and Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry (June 16). See the full commencement schedule.

Interfaith Baccalaureate Service | Friday, May 10, 2024

Prior to Saturday’s festive celebration, students and families came together for the traditional Interfaith Baccalaureate and Last Lecture, given by Dugoni Professor and Order of Pacific recipient Cindy Lyon.

“Graduates, on this special occasion, as you're ready to leap into tomorrow, the best practical wisdom I can share is be yourself,” Lyon said. “You owe it to your families who have shaped you. Words are important. Be intentional about how you use them. Tell people you believe in them. Don't be afraid to take a chance. Say yes to opportunities that present. Offer opportunities to others when you have the ability.”

Affinity, honors and leadership celebrations

Celebrations were held throughout the week leading up to commencement for students of various affinity groups, including Latinx; LGBTQ+; Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi; Black; and Native American.

Students, student organizers and advisors were also recognized at the Faith Davies All-University Leadership Awards for their impact on the campus and community.