Creating Opportunities

Janet (Beyer) Copeland '64

Janet (Beyer) Copeland ’64 was 16 when she came to Pacific University.

She’d started school a bit early and completed two grades in a single year to graduate early from her high school. Then, she set out to find a college as far from her Texas home as possible.

“I wanted to see something different and be away from home,” she said.

At Pacific, she found a new world.

“Being at Pacific just opened my thoughts to the whole world of everything,” she said.

In the early 1960s in Texas, she had attended an all-white high school.

“Then I went where there were all kinds of races and experiences and other cultures. It was wonderful to meet all these people who had had all these different experiences I had never imagined,” she said.

Though she spent less than two years at Pacific, that time changed her.

That’s why, when Copeland earned her PhD at the age of 65, her husband decided to honor her — and the beginning of her journey — by establishing an endowed scholarship at Pacific University.

“It was a way to honor her, a way of saying, ‘I love you, I’m proud of your accomplishments,’” Phillip Copeland said.

“For her, she was living in a provincial setting and going somewhere with a much better vision of what life was like. We’ve had many conversations about the good days she had at Pacific.

“I’d like to see other people get the opportunity she had.”

Janet Copeland said she and her husband would call themselves “renaissance people.”

“Like da Vinci, he did everything under the sun. Except he was really good at what he did and we’re not,” she said, laughing. “Our approach to life is that you take in everything that you can. It all started at Pacific for me.”

As much as she loved her time at Pacific — and she recalls fond memories that range from her freshman class hiding all of the university’s silverware in protest of a senior declaration that first-years couldn’t eat with forks to experiencing the art, music and writing in Dr. Frank Chipp’s western culture class — she left before graduating, feeling a bit homesick and, she said, “tired of school.”

"Our approach to life is that you take in everything that you can. It all started at Pacific for me."
– Janet Copeland '64

She married, worked as an administrative assistant at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, served as a house mother as her husband worked in the seminary’s housing department, and had a son. 

When she was 40, she wasn’t feeling so tired of school. She started taking part-time classes through the seminary while working, eventually earning her associate degree, the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree, then two master’s degrees, one in divinity and one in Christian education.

After she retired, she decided to go on for her PhD in administration as that’s what she’d done much of her life.

Some people, she said, might celebrate such an accomplishment with a trip. But the Copelands had other plans: “We’re all for giving back to further somebody else along the line that we traveled.

“Pacific has always been very dear to my heart. I’ve given a little money over time but never had very much to give,” she said. “Now that we’ve retired and we’re able to get ahold of some of our money … we wanted to do something to help somebody else beginning the journey.”

The Copelands’ endowment will fund a scholarship that will support a young woman, preferably from east of the Rocky Mountains, starting her education at Pacific University.

“We’re trying to duplicate the opportunities Pacific gave her for people to broaden their horizons,” Phillip Copeland said. “You just want to give people an opportunity to take the next step, clear the way so they have chance to better themselves.”

Ed Asner on stage

Ed Asner is exactly what you'd expect

A little cranky, a little crass, and a lot funny. In April, Asner brought his one-man show as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to campus as part of the Performing Arts Series. Before the show, though, he rubbed elbows with members of Pacific’s Charles Trombley Society and other invitees at a special reception. The Trombley Society recognizes donors who make leadership gifts to Pacific University, contributing $1,000 or more in a year. Members receive their own newsletter, discounts at the Pacific University Bookstore and invitations to special events, such as the reception with Asner. The society is named for Charles Trombley ’54, who spent 30 years at Pacific, first as director of admissions and later as dean of students. He was the first recipient of the university’s Outstanding Alumnus Award, as well as the eponym of Trombley Square, the central courtyard on the Forest Grove Campus. With their gifts, members of the Trombley Society demonstrate their commitment to Pacific’s distinctive mission, just as Charles Trombley did. Their gifts help Pacific recruit and retain the best faculty and students and continue to offer the rigorous, but nurturing, experience that marks a Pacific University education.


This story first appeared in the Spring 2013 – Philanthropy Edition issue of Pacific magazine. For more stories, visit pacificu.edu/magazine.

Oct. 4, 2013