Pacific Renames Building To Honor Alum Les AuCoin '69
Pacific University’s most recently renovated building is now named for one of the university’s most distinguished alumni.
As the former Pacific Hall reopens to students and staff this week, it bears the name of former United States Representative Les AuCoin ’69. The renaming of the building to Les AuCoin Hall was approved by the university’s Board of Trustees at its December meeting.
A dedication ceremony for AuCoin Hall will take place later in 2024 in conjunction with activities commemorating Pacific University’s 175th anniversary.
Originally opened in 1967, the building served as the university’s library for over three decades until the opening of the Tim & Cathy Tran Library in 2005. Since that time, AuCoin Hall has housed classrooms, offices and meeting space for student services staff, the Center for Languages and International Collaboration (CLIC), the Student Multicultural Center, the Center for Gender Equity and the McCall Center for Civic Engagement. It is also the longtime home of the Kathrin Cawein Gallery of Art.
Over the last eight months, AuCoin Hall has undergone a $10.5 million renovation, adding new classrooms and computer technology labs, and providing critical seismic and accessibility upgrades to the 56-year-old structure.
“At the center of our Forest Grove campus, AuCoin Hall will be a hub for students to come together to learn, exchange ideas, and engage in community,” said Pacific University President Jenny Coyle. “Rep. AuCoinʻs life and career exemplify Pacificʻs mission of inspiring students who think, care, create, and pursue justice and we are honored to continue his legacy and example to future generations.”
“To be honored by Pacific’s community of seekers and achievers warms my heart,” AuCoin said. “My life’s work was shaped at Pacific by those who taught and encouraged and saw what at times were mere flickers of possibility. More than a half-century later, I am deeply honored by this link between my story and Pacific’s dedication to educational excellence.”
A 1969 alumnus of Pacific, AuCoin enrolled at the university in 1960 and attended for one year before enlisting in the Army. After completing his service, AuCoin returned to Pacific where he served as the university’s public information officer while simultaneously completing his undergraduate degree in journalism.
AuCoin’s career in public service began in Forest Grove in the early 1970s, when he mounted his first campaign from a home he and his family rented along College Way (now owned by the university and known as Drake House). He served in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1971 to 1975 and was the chamber’s majority leader from 1973 to 1975.
In 1975, AuCoin was elected to his first of nine terms as a United States Representative from Oregon’s First District. During his time in Congress, AuCoin, a Democrat, was a consistent advocate for his home state, the environment, Native American sovereignty, human rights and the fight against nuclear proliferation.
He served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, where his advocacy secured funding for several critical infrastructure projects in Oregon, including the construction of Portland’s light rail system and Baker City’s Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, funding for the restoration of the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz.
In addition to his undergraduate degree, AuCoin was conferred an honorary doctor of laws degree in 1977 when he gave the keynote speech for the rededication ceremony of Marsh Hall.
A past vice-chair of the university’s Board of Trustees, AuCoin donated his professional papers to Pacific in 2020. The 189 boxes of speeches, press clippings and other mementos chronicle his life and political career.
Originally named the Harvey W. Scott Memorial Library, the building was temporarily renamed Pacific Hall in 2022. The renaming to AuCoin Hall is supported by the descendants of Pacific’s first alumnus, for whom the building was originally named.
“Inspired by Congressman AuCoin’s lifetime commitment to service and justice, the Walters family feels this naming is in alignment with their family values and agree that it supports the mission of Pacific University,” said Mark Frandsen, chair of the Pacific University Board of Trustees.