The Women Who Made Pacific

If it wasn’t for a hardy pioneer woman, Tabitha Brown, Pacific University might never have gotten off the ground in the mid-19th century.

She was keenly interested in educating and caring for young people, and she was a partner in and contributor to the effort to start Tualatin Academy, which eventually became the university.

Since the beginning, Pacific has been a place where women could succeed, in one form or another.

That doesn't mean that the playing field has been level through the decades.

Since the beginning, Pacific has been a place where women could succeed, in one form or another.

Pacific was one of the first colleges in the world to offer co-educational higher education. As the university’s first president, Sidney Harper Marsh, told the Forest Grove Monthly in September 1868, “We believe it is best for both sexes that they should ... be associated together. There is no sacrifice of anything valuable.” This was not a conventional view.

female students in the 1940s drawing bows
Archery Class, 1944

That doesn’t mean that the playing field has been level through the decades. (While Pacific fielded a women’s basketball team soon after the turn of the last century, male spectators weren’t permitted. It was thought improper.)

In general, though, women who attended and taught at Pacific during the first part of its existence were given space to succeed, at least in comparison to the standards of the time.

What follows is a sampling of women who attended or taught at Pacific during its 170-year history. It is not meant to be a collection of the most influential or prominent women, but rather an anthology of some of the remarkable people who have spent a portion of their lives here.


This feature and the profiles below appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Pacific magazine. For more stories, visit pacificu.edu/magazine. Special thanks to the Pacific University Archives.

Sep. 13, 2019