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History & Mission

Mission Statement

University of the Pacific's mission is to provide a superior, student-centered learning experience integrating liberal arts and
professional education and preparing individuals for lasting achievement and responsible leadership in their careers and communities.


University of the Pacific was established by pioneer Methodist ministers in Santa Clara in July 1851 as California's first chartered institution of higher learning. Initially named California Wesleyan College, it petitioned the state to change its name to University of the Pacific one month after it was chartered. In the 162 years since then, Pacific has earned widespread recognition for its student-centered approach to education, its many firsts and innovations and the accomplishments of its 55,000 living alumni.

As an innovator and leader in higher education, Pacific provided the West Coast with its first medical school in 1858 (which later became part of Stanford, and today is California Pacific Medical Center), and its first conservatory of music in 1878.  It became the state's first coeducational campus in 1871 and was the nation's first to offer an undergraduate teacher corps program, the first to send an entire class to an overseas campus, the first to establish a Spanish-speaking inter-American college the first to offer a four-year guarantee and the first to offer matching Cal Grants.

In 1871, Pacific moved to San Jose and in 1896, it merged with Napa College. With its move from San Jose to Stockton in 1924, Pacific became the first private four-year university in the Central Valley. Shortly after occupying the new campus, Pacific established one of California's earliest schools of education. It was renamed the Gladys L. Benerd School of Education in 1992 in honor of the alumna's endowed gift.

Pacific has enjoyed extraordinary stability in administration. Dr. Pamela A. Eibeck began her service in 2009 as only the sixth President since the University's move to Stockton in 1924 and the 24th since its founding in 1851.

In 1969, Pacific became financially independent from the Methodist Church. While it is still associated with the church, the University is non-denominational and does not require students to attend religious services or receive religious instruction. The University Multifaith Chaplain coordinates spiritual life on campus and is a resource for students. Numerous campus student organizations also support various faiths and beliefs and social justice activities. 

The University experienced its greatest growth and an expansion into graduate and professional education under the administration of Dr. Robert Burns (1947-1971). The School of Pharmacy opened in 1955. It is now the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, in honor of the benefactor and University Regent who, with his brother Joseph Long, founded Longs Drugs Stores. In 1956 the graduate school was created, and in 1957 the School of Engineering was established. Computer Science joined that school in 2002, and it was renamed the School of Engineering and Computer Science. In 1962, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, a school of dentistry founded in San Francisco in 1896, was acquired by the University and became the San Francisco campus. In 2004, the school was named the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in honor of its dean of 28 years. It was the first time any university in the United States or Canada had named its dental school for the current dean.

In the 1960s, Pacific founded three Cluster Colleges, which adapted the Oxford and Cambridge model to an American setting, integrating faculty and students into living and learning communities. Raymond College, established in 1962, was an accelerated, interdisciplinary liberal arts program where students shaped their course of study. Elbert Covell College established in 1963 was the first bilingual-bicultural college in the country. Callison College, was established in 1967 and focused on non-Western studies with a year of study in an Asian culture. The cluster colleges were absorbed into the rest of the University in 1982. Their value for close-knit learning communities, accelerated and interdisciplinary programs and self-designed majors have left a lasting impact. Their emphasis on global education continued in a new School of International Studies established in 1987 with a gift from George and Isabel Wilson. It was the first university-based undergraduate school of international studies in California. In 2012, the School of International Studies, while retaining its autonomy as a school, became part of the College of the Pacific.

Pacific's Holt-Atherton Special Collections, a tremendous resource for students and researchers nationwide, holds more than 400 collections for preservation and research. These include the original papers of John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, who is credited with convincing the federal government to create Yosemite National Park.  In 1999 jazz legend Dave Brubeck and his wife Iola, both Pacific graduates, announced that their papers, recordings and memorabilia also would be deposited at Pacific for study and research. In response to this gift, a treasure of historic American music and memorabilia, President DeRosa announced formation of The Brubeck Institute for the study, promotion and performance of American music.

In 1996, Pacific broadened its footprint to Sacramento when McGeorge College of Law, an independent law school founded in Sacramento in 1924, merged with the University in 1966 as Pacific McGeorge School of Law. The department of business administration in College of the Pacific was reorganized in 1977 as the School of Business and Public Administration. It was renamed Eberhardt School of Business in 1995 in honor of the Eberhardt family's endowed gifts. In 1985, programs designed specifically for adult "reentry" students were reorganized and revitalized through University College, now the Center for Professional and Continuing Education.

Under the leadership of President Don DeRosa (1995-2009), the University also invested more than $200 million in facilities renovation and construction projects on all three campuses. Accelerated programs were expanded to undergraduate studies in combination with professional degrees in pharmacy, law and business, allowing students to graduate one to three fewer years than required at most other universities. Pacific intensified its commitment to experiential learning, including undergraduate research, internships, community service and education abroad. The University launched an environmental sustainability initiative and instituted the Powell Scholars program, a premier scholarship program for undergraduate student leaders.

Dr. Pamela A. Eibeck assumed Pacific's Presidency in 2009. Under her stewardship, Pacific is expanding its presence in Sacramento and San Francisco and implementing a bold new strategic vision, Pacific 2020. This vision capitalizes on the University's highly regarded academic programs, formative student-teacher relationships and multiple locations to position Pacific to become a leading California university preparing graduates for meaningful lives and successful careers. President Eibeck has also made community engagement a top priority for the University. In 2010, Pacific launched the "Beyond Our Gates... Into the Community" initiative in order to forge community partnerships that improve lives in our region. As part of "Beyond Our Gates," the University has launched The Tomorrow Project, an intensive K-12 educational outreach program, and the Beyond Our Gates Community Council, an advisory body comprising local leaders representing business, education, nonprofit and other fields.

In November 2011, the University finalized the purchase of a new campus in San Francisco at 155 Fifth Street. The new campus provides the space and facilities needed for Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry to remain one of the nation's top dental schools. It also affords Pacific an opportunity to expand its programming and visibility in San Francisco. The building is anticipated to open in June 2014.

Pacific continues to enjoy national recognition for its leadership in higher education. The University has been listed as a "Best Value" (Top 50) by U.S. News & World Report every year since 2000. U.S. News also ranks Pacific very high for ethnic (Top 10) and economic (Top 5) diversity. In 2012,, which tracks salary information, ranked the University in the top 75 institutions in the United States for highest paid graduates. Undergraduate applications have soared from approximately 5,300 in 2008 to nearly 23,000 for fall 2012.

The University remains committed to its personal, student-centered approach. Faculty and staff are dedicated to excellence in teaching. Highly interactive student-faculty relations and a broad array of co-curricular activities that develop students' abilities are hallmarks of the Pacific experience.