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University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, California 95211

One Word

"What if somebody asked you to trade in your name for One Word that would represent you as your 'idea self'? What One Word would you choose and why?" Launched as a new leadership initiative in 2008 here at the University of the Pacific, the Pacific One Word Project has evolved into a signature part of the Pacific experience. Informed by Richard Boyatzis' (2001) Intentional Change Model and Leadership Identity Development Theory (Komives et. al., 2005), the Project was designed to assist students in expanding their levels of self-awareness by asking students to focus on the differences between their real and aspirational identities.

Due in large part to the high quality artistic work of the student design team it became apparent that more than just first year students became interested in joining the One Word community. To date, over 2,000 students faculty, staff, and alumni, including President Eibeck, have participated in One Word. The Project has expanded into the local Stockton community through high school and middle school outreach sessions, to other colleges and universities, corporately to Whole Foods, and even globally to young rural women in Paraguay.

From Orientation through to commencement, One Word lives as a representation of the diversity and culture of the Pacific community. The Project lives as a mosaic art display in our DeRosa University Center spanning 36 feet wide and over eight feet tall, serving as a visual reminder of the community, as well as online at the project website, The website serves as the Project's living art display that grows in members weekly during the academic year.

One Word is an integral part of our first year experience programming, meaning that all first year students participate in this program focusing on self-assessment and self-awareness. Though we cannot claim causality, or results from our recent participation in the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL, 2011) shows a statistically significant jump in leadership self-efficacy for our students compared to their peers at other institutions. Additionally, last year our retention rate from freshmen to sophomore year increased 5%, a first in over ten years at our institution, thanks to intentional programming that occurs in the first year, of which One Word is a key component.

One Word's success has transformed the early idea of leadership development into a celebration of people by displaying the diversity of cultures, individuals, and ideas that unite the members of the Pacific community.

Recognition for the Pacific One Word Project

Within the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the Pacific One Word Project was recently the topic of a program session at the 2010 NASPA National Conference. Also in 2010, the Project was the recipient of the Region VI Innovative Program Award and featured at the Western Regional NASPA Conference in a program session. One Word was also recognized with a Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Award for exemplary programming in 2011.

Explore the One Word Community and Participate in the Project:

Our website contains many members of the Pacific One Word Community, with new members added each week. For more information on the Project or to explore our community, please visit

If you are a past or present member of the Pacific Community and want to participate, please sign up to attend a shoot at the Stockton campus this Spring at: