Business Leader Manuel Castañeda To Receive Honorary Degree

Manuel Castañeda

Pacific University is proud to bestow local business owner and university trustee Manuel Castañeda with an honorary degree this May during the university’s spring commencement exercises.

Born and raised in Mexico, Castañeda was one of 12 children growing up in a two-bedroom home lacking running water or electricity. His parents were eager to provide more opportunity for their children and emigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Manuel followed at age 14. He started his first job in landscaping at age 15, graduated from Forest Grove High School, then bought a lawnmower and pickup truck to start a yard maintenance company. As his company grew, he learned geotechnical engineering techniques from other professionals and passed the state’s contractor exam, shifting his business to focus on landscape construction. 

In 2003, Castañeda started PLI Systems, transitioning again from landscape design to repairing the damage done by landslide and installing piles for buildings and bridges. Today, Hillsboro-based PLI Systems is known for doing the impossible. They are industry leaders in soil and foundation stabilization, coring, drilling, and pile driving, guided by Castañeda’s drive to grow and succeed.

PLI Systems is also among the fastest growing Hispanic-owned businesses in the country, licensed to work in several states in addition to Oregon. 

Castañeda serves on the board of the Cascade Policy Institute, helped found the Washington County Business Council, led the loan committee for Albina Community Corp., and has been a volunteer for the Port of Portland Mentor Protégé Program.

He also has served on the Pacific University Board of Trustees since 2007, supported the university’s annual scholarship fund for the past 14 years, and helped champion the founding of the Pacific University College of Business in 2013.

He will receive an honorary Doctor of Science, Honorus Causa, at Pacific University’s morning commencement ceremony, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 20, at Hanson Stadium on the university’s Forest Grove Campus. Tickets to the ceremony are free but required for guests.

Monday, May 15, 2023