Pacific's Presidential Inauguration Highlights Students, Alumni and Vision for Tomorrow

A day of possibility is dawning at Pacific University, said President Jenny Coyle ’90, OD ’93, MS ’00.

“Even though we’re at a unique time in history, when we’re faced with what might seem like impossible challenges — and higher education as a whole seems to be under daily attack — we will thrive,” she said in her inauguration remarks March 9.

“How do I know? I know us. And we have a pretty remarkable history of taking those next right steps. I believe in us.”

Coyle was ceremonially installed as the 18th president of Pacific University on March 9, 2023. She officially began her tenure in the position on July 1, 2022.

“Dr. Coyle is a respected leader,” said Mark Frandsen, chair of the Pacific University Board of Trustees. “She brings positive energy, innovation, passion to educating students. She builds relationships of mutual trust, collaboration and community, and people respond in powerful ways. Dr. Coyle is the leader we were seeking, the leader Pacific needs. A caring, visionary leader who understands the challenging opportunities higher education is facing.”

Coyle is the first alumna to serve as president of Pacific, bringing a 35-year relationship with the university to the role of president. She earned her bachelor’s, doctor of optometry, and master of science at Pacific and went on to serve as a faculty member and dean of the College of Optometry. Two of her children also attended Pacific.

President Emerita Lesley Hallick, President Emeritus Robert Duvall and Provost Emeritus John Miller participated in the formal installation, and delegates from more than a dozen other institutions attended in roles of honor.

The Pacific University Chamber Singers, featuring soloist Dezmon Moon '23, sing "We Shall Overcome" at the inauguration ceremonyHer inauguration highlighted that long history and the people of Pacific today. The ceremony featured remarks from faculty, staff and alumni; performances by the Pacific University Chamber Singers, Symphonic Woodwind Ensemble, and Dance Ensemble; and readings and introductions by Pacific students hailing from all over the world.

In the week leading up to the ceremony, special university events highlighted the work of students, faculty, staff and alumni in the community. 

  • Community members toured Pacific’s on-site early childhood and elementary school, the Early Learning Community.
  • Pacific’s mobile health units, partnering with mobile healthcare teams from Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Centers, Centro Cultural and ¡Salud! Provided health screenings for dozens of community members during a health fair.
  • Alumni presented panels on the state of athletics and women changing the world.
  • College of Health Professions faculty highlighted research and clinical practice around medical interventions and healthcare access.
  • And student-faculty teams presented projects ranging from the Music Education Project, offering music education for community children, to culturally adapted dementia care for Native Hawaiians.

“Our students and our alumni: You are my ‘why.’ I never ceased to be amazed by all you do and all the ways you change the world,” Coyle said. “Today is a celebration of Pacific and of you. You are the enduring legacy of this institution, and during the time I serve, I will always keep you and your service as my priority.”

Her vision for the future, she said, centers on retaining Pacific’s mission to inspire students to think, care, create, and pursue justice — and extending access to those opportunities to a broader community. 

Watch the Ceremony

“I challenge us to have equity as an overarching umbrella for all of our goals and to embrace diversity so that inclusive excellence is at the core of all we do,” she said, highlighting Pacific’s status as an Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander serving institution and its pending designation as a Hispanic serving institution.

“Although the diversity of our student body deepens, we must improve recruitment and retention of faculty and staff of color. We owe it to our students and to each other.”

She wants Pacific to be considered a best place to work and to launch new community partnerships and sustainability efforts, she said.

And she called for initiatives to reduce equity gaps in retention, persistence and graduation, as well as for an accessibility focus in programs and facilities.

“Let’s make sure all who access our programs have the resources and capacity to be successful and have the knowledge, skills, and tools to go find their bliss in the world,” Coyle said.

Coyle said a robust strategic planning process will begin this spring, following on the heels of more than 100 “Conversations About Community” she held with students, employees, alumni, donors and community members this fall. Pacific, she said, will thrive in the years ahead.

“Pacific University has seen the turn of the century, twice. We’ve survived two world wars, two worldwide pandemics, the Great Depression and the Great Recession. And through it all, we consistently reaffirm our values, use our minds, our energy and our hearts to create and make society more civil and equitable and our programs and services accessible for all who follow.

“Together, we will always dwell in possibility,” she said, quoting an Emily Dickinson poem that served as the theme of the inauguration celebration. “Because those possibilities can then become splendidly audacious realities. 

“That’s what we do here at Pacific. I am living proof.”

Friday, March 10, 2023