Letter from the President

Letter from the President

A message from President Lesley M. Hallick

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This issue is dedicated to a theme of discovery. 

Considering that, I have asked myself how my own opportunity to participate in undergraduate research impacted me. It is not an overstatement to say that it determined the course of my professional life.

I had the good fortune to be mentored by wonderful teachers in high school and by faculty in college and graduate school who opened my eyes to new worlds neither I, nor my parents, knew existed. Inspired and assisted by a high school chemistry teacher, I spent a summer working in an organic chemistry lab at nearby Chapman College. 

I ended up going to Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., an environment quite similar to Pacific University. The faculty knew your name from the first week, and they served not only as academic advisors, but often helped you find that extra job to make ends meet.

Contrary to the advice I now give students, I tried to avoid all but science courses. Fortunately, a strong general liberal arts curriculum prevented me from disappearing entirely into the laboratory and exposed me to everything from conflict resolution to economics, skills that would prove invaluable later in life.

Thanks in part to the availability of federal grants supporting undergraduate research, I was able to work on several different research projects. My last summer at Pomona, I was invited by the chair of the Chemistry Department to work in a lab in Munich, Germany. The experience there, combined with inspiring guest lectures and another faculty member who taught a virology course using only primary journal articles, sealed my fate. It is no coincidence that I decided to become a molecular virologist in order to understand how viruses caused disease.

My undergraduate experience was an ideal mix of a comprehensive liberal arts education, exposure to nurturing faculty members, and hands-on research opportunities. 

And that is exactly what our students experience today at Pacific University.

As a student, I was lucky to have faculty members who inspired me to believe that science would allow me to understand disease at a molecular level, and from there how to make a difference in people’s lives. 

Our students have that same conviction: In everything they study, they believe they have the chance to improve the quality of life, the health of our planet, and the way people interact with one another.

And I believe they will.

Warmest Regards,

Lesley M. Hallick, President