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History of the College

The College of the Pacific—a school of arts, letters, and sciences—is the original and largest unit of the University of the Pacific.

Although founded in 1851 as the University of the Pacific, the institution was for 60 years primarily an undergraduate liberal arts college. In recognition of that reality, its name was changed in 1911 to the College of the Pacific, and thus it remained for the next 50 years.

When President Tully C. Knoles moved the College of the Pacific from San Jose to its new campus in Stockton in 1924, the faculty that he brought with him represented 17 of the current 18 departments in the College. At that time the College also included a Conservatory and departments of education and engineering.

In 1961 the growing institution reclaimed for itself the name University of the Pacific, and in the following year conferred the name College of the Pacific on its liberal arts unit.

The College continues in its distinctive mission to provide graduates with a superior liberal arts education, preparing them to assume the responsibilities of leadership, both civic and professional.

College of the Pacific Timeline

Knoles Hall
Knoles Hall, one of the oldest
buildings on the Stockton campus,
was named after former President
Tully Cleon Knoles.

1851-University of the Pacific is founded in Santa Clara and later moves to San Jose, California.

1911-The university is renamed College of the Pacific, reflecting its heritage as a liberal arts college.

1919 - Tully Cleon Knoles, a professor of History from University of Southern California, becomes President of the College of the Pacific and oversees some of the College's greatest changes, including the drastic reassessment of academic standards and the selection of a new location for the College.

1924-The campus is moved from San Jose to Stockton.

John Muir
The John Muir Collection, housed in 
the Holt-Atherton Special Collections
at the William Knox Library, are an
invaluable resource for the John Muir

1961-The university reverts to its original name, University of the Pacific, and the college of arts, letters and sciences is designated College of the Pacific shortly thereafter.

1989 - The John Muir Center for Regional Studies was created within the College of the Pacific to foster a closer academic relationship between University of the Pacific and the larger community of scholars, students and citizens interested in John Muir and regional studies. Ronald Limbaugh served as the Center's first director.

2000 - The Jacoby Center for Public Service and Civic Leadership is established in honor of the late Harold S. Jacoby, former professor of Sociology and the first Dean of the College. The Jacoby Center seeks to strengthen the links between Pacific's campuses and their communities by encouraging effective partnerships; cultivating public service and civic leadership; and engaging students and faculty in the world beyond our gates.

Grand opening of the GHES Center
Dr. Courtney Lehmann, English; Dr.
Gesine Gerhard, History; Dr. Xiaojing
Zhou, English, celebrate the official
opening of the GHES Center.

2009 - The Gender, Humanities and Ethnic Studies is established as a place for students within those disciplines to gather and exchange ideas and knowledge. Gender studies and Ethnic studies are both minors within the College, with the option of creating a self-designed major.

Learn more about the history of the university and its pioneering firsts.