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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.

Preparing our students for success after graduation

Pacific students are highly successful after graduation: 91% of 2019 graduates surveyed are employed or in graduate school. Of those employed, 93% indicated that their current position is related to their career objectives. In 2019, Pacific alumni salaries ranked No. 3 in California compared to similar institutions, according to the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education ranked Pacific No. 21 in the West for 2020. The university earns widespread recognition for its deep commitment to teaching and learning, its history of innovation and the accomplishments of its alumni.

Looking back: Our unique history

Class of 1889

University of the Pacific was established July 10, 1851, as California's first chartered institution of higher learning. It was founded by pioneering Methodist ministers and remains the only Methodist-related university in California. Originally located in Santa Clara, the university later moved to San Jose and, in 1924, moved to Stockton, making it the first private four-year university in the Central Valley. 

An innovator and leader in higher education, Pacific provided California with its first chartered medical school in 1858, its first coeducational campus in 1871, and its first conservatory of music in 1878. It 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, and the first to offer a four-year graduation guarantee.

Conservatory of Music

Pacific has enjoyed extraordinary stability in administration. From 2009-19, Pamela A. Eibeck served as the sixth president since the university's move to Stockton in 1924. Upon Eibeck's retirement, Provost Maria Pallavicini served as interim president during the search for Pacific's next president. On July 1, Christopher Callahan began his role as president of University of the Pacific.

First Stockton campus buildings

The university experienced significant growth and and expansion into graduate and professional education under the administration of Dr. Robert Burns (1947-1971). During that time, the School of Pharmacy opened (1955), the Graduate School was created (1956), and the School of Engineering was established (1957). The university also extended its footprint into San Francisco and Sacramento during this time with the acquisition of the College of Physicians and Surgeons (1962), a school of dentistry founded in San Francisco in 1896, and with the merger of McGeorge College of Law (1966), an independent law school founded in Sacramento in 1924.

Building Burns Tower, once the tallest building in Stockton

In addition, three new colleges were established in the 1960s modeled on British universities such as Oxford and Cambridge. These colleges integrated faculty and students into distinct living and learning communities. Raymond College (1962) was an accelerated, interdisciplinary liberal arts program in which students shaped their own courses of study. Elbert Covell College (1963) was a unique inter-American college. Half the students were from the U.S. and half from Latin America, with classes taught in Spanish. Callison College (1967) focused on non-Western studies with a year of study in Asia. These colleges merged into the rest of the university in 1982. Their values, including a close-knit learning community, accelerated and interdisciplinary programs, and self-designed majors, have left a lasting impact on Pacific. Their emphasis on global education continued in the School of International Studies (1987), which was the first university-based undergraduate school of international studies in California. 

Pacific continued to advance its legacy of innovation and leadership under the leadership of President Donald V. DeRosa (1995-2009), investing more than $200 million in facilities renovation and construction projects on all three campuses during that time and completed a successful $330 million Investing in Excellence fundraising campaign. Pacific also increased distinctive accelerated programs that enabled students to complete undergraduate studies in combination with professional degrees in pharmacy, law, dentistry and business. The university intensified its commitment to experiential learning, including Pacific undergraduate research, internships, community service and education abroad. Pacific also launched the Brubeck Institute, dedicated to building on the legacy of jazz legend Dave Brubeck '42, and the Powell Scholars Program, a premier scholarship program for undergraduate student leaders.

In 2013, the university received a transformational gift of $125 million from the estate of the late Regents Robert and Jeannette Powell. The Powells were ardent champions of the university's educational mission, and great advocates for access and excellence. In accordance with their wishes, their gift has been endowed and earmarked largely for scholarships and academic programs. A large portion of the gift is being used to encourage others to make endowment gifts through the Powell Match Program. Our donors' generosity and passion for Pacific will mean that generations of students will be able to achieve a superior education.

Pacific today

Knoles Hall

University of the Pacific continues to be a highly ranked national university that remains deeply committed to its personal, student-centered approach. Campuses in Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco strategically position Pacific in three of California's, and the nation's, most important and dynamic markets.

Pacific has added more than a dozen new academic programs across its three campuses over the last three years. Once the exclusive homes to Pacific's law and dental schools, the Sacramento and San Francisco campuses now reach new students with graduate programs in data science, physician assistant studies, audiology, music therapy, education, public policy and public administration. These programs help address the region's critical need for leaders in technology, health care, education, government and nonprofit sectors. New graduate and undergraduate programs have been launched on Stockton Campus designed to equip students for success in the digital era, including Media X, a program that integrates the analysis, performance, production, marketing and management of traditional, digital and emerging media.

Pacific students gain the skills and knowledge necessary for success in the 21st century through experiential learning, robust career preparation and a diverse community. Pacific faculty/scholars take a deep interest in the students' discovery of their talents, providing an unparalleled landscape of learning. 

Beyond academics: Pacific's community impact

Beyond Our Gates

President Eibeck has made community engagement a priority for the university. While the university has been active in supporting the community in many ways over the years, in 2010, Pacific launched the "Beyond Our Gates...Into the Community" initiative in order to concentrate the university's efforts and forge community partnerships in ways that have the greatest impact to improve lives in our region. With a focus on education, especially early literacy, high school graduation and college readiness, the university is working alongside local individuals and organizations to prepare more of our young people for a successful future. Pacific is also making a positive community impact across Northern California through tens of thousands of hours of public outreach, innovative new programs and the efforts of students, faculty and staff across the university.  LEARN MORE>

Our schools and colleges

Pacific's eleven schools and colleges on its three campuses offer students their choice of 80-plus majors, including 21 graduate programs and 12 accelerated program options. For example, students can go directly into certain professional programs, including pharmacy, dentistry and law, while accelerated programs in business, engineering and education make it possible to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees in five years. LEARN MORE>


University of the Pacific Tigers compete in NCAA Division I in seven (7) men's and ten (10) women's sports, primarily in the West Coast Conference. As a founding member of the conference, Pacific shares its sister institutions' long tradition in intercollegiate athletics and their dedication to high-quality academics and athletic success. The Pacific Tigers take pride in outstanding achievement both on the field of play and in the classroom.