Defining moments: How believing in a student started a Pacific legacy

One person who believes in you and offers encouragement at just the right time can change your life. For Gene McIntyre '60 – there were two.

Photo: Shannon McIntyre '08 and her father Gene McIntyre '60.McIntyre, was, by his own admission, a marginal high school student, unmotivated and seemingly unappreciated. "My high school experience ranks among the worst of my life. I was neither a sports hero nor a brilliant student. As a result, I got the impression from teachers and staff there that I was of little worth or value."

One day in an Astoria, Ore., church, though, that all changed. McIntyre met Meredith McVicker, Pacific's director of students and dean of the College of Education at the time, and Charles Trombley, who was dean of admissions. "They told me what a great place Pacific was and told me I could improve my attitude and my grades. They gave me the impression that I had potential and that it could be developed at Pacific University."

McIntyre enrolled at Pacific in 1956 and began an academic and personal metamorphosis. Trombley and his wife Betty took McIntyre under their wing. McVicker didn't disappear either, said McIntyre, and was always around offering encouragement. McIntyre lived in McCormick Hall, joined the Alpha Zeta Fraternity, and later became residence manager at McCormick.

"These people motivated a mind that had been semi-dormant for 18 years," said McIntyre. "They encouraged me to see the future as a very bright prospect and to encourage me to see success in my job and my life."

Not surprisingly, the once average student saw his grades shoot up and his self-esteem soar. With McVicker's encouragement, McIntyre decided to become a teacher. After graduation, he taught social studies, language arts, and math at a Beaverton, Ore., middle school. But he wasn't done yet. While working on his master's degree in history from the University of Oregon, he taught in Junction City, Ore. His teaching and school administrative work also took him to colleges in Tacoma, Wash.; British Columbia; and Eugene, Ore. He spent a year in Germany in order to learn German as part of his doctoral program. At one point he also worked as a training specialist for the Arabian American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia. McIntyre retired from full-time work in 1999 after 11 years as an education/training specialist with the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. Until recently he was a grant writer and part-time principal for the Willamette Education Service District in Salem.

In 1974 McIntyre married Linda Carnegie. Daughters Claire and Shannon followed. Shannon chose Pacific for college, following in her father's footsteps. "I had heard stories about Pacific . . . about how my dad had considerable adoration for the place and what an exceptional experience he had there, how it truly changed his life," said Shannon '08.

Still, Shannon had thought private school would be too expensive. Then, as with her father, a Pacific staff member made the difference. Admissions Counselor Dan Cleveland '03 invited the family to a visitation day.

"I visited Pacific several times during my senior year as I was yet unsure about which college I would ultimately choose to attend," said Shannon. "On that last trip (to campus), as I was driving back home with my parents, I decided that Pacific would be the best choice for me."

McIntyre couldn't be more proud of his daughter. He's excited and hopeful that she will have a similar Pacific experience.

"You would have had to go through what I experienced from the very first day I entered Pacific . . . to know what a difference it makes when people you respect and admire take an interest in you and tell you that they see in you great potential. It's the sort of thing that television personality Dr. Phil aptly calls,
'a defining moment.'"


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