On the morning of January 24th, 2019, the news was shared that an era at University of the Pacific would becoming to an end as University President Pamela Eibeck announced that she would be retiring following the spring semester, with provost Maria Pallavicini taking the position of interim president starting July 1st, 2019. “This was a difficult decision, because I care deeply about Pacific, our students and the communities we serve,” explained President Eibeck in her official statement, saying that, “Last spring, I informed Board of Regents Chair Kevin Huber that I intended to retire early to spend time with my husband and our growing family. I also shared my desire to provide continued leadership for the compensation and budget adjustments through the end of this year.” This decision came as a surprise to much of the Pacific community, as Matthew Spain ‘19 recalls that “President Eibeck’s retirement announcement sent shockwaves throughout the school,” and that “As a senior, I never expected for the end of my collegiate journey to coincide with the retirement of President Eibeck.”
The last months of Eibeck’s tenure, according to a statement from the Board of Regents will include responsibilities such as preparations for the university’s budget adjustments for the next fiscal year and continuing work on the university’s strategic priorities. The statement, released by Board of Regents Chair Kevin Hubert ‘86, states that, “The months ahead will require a shared commitment to collaboration by all. I am confident that the university community will work together on the implementation of the aforementioned initiatives.”
The University has not indicated that it will change any of the controversial budget cuts that have been announced under Eibeck’s presidency, including the recent discontinuing of the women’s field hockey program announced this past fall. Despite this, the student body still holds hope that the change in leadership will lead to improvements within the university. “I believe President Eibeck’s retirement could lead to the university improving, simply because recently we have been able to detect and verbalize the issues we have on campus,” says Elizabeth Malone ‘21. “ I think if the president search committee includes student and faculty participation and if their insight is valued, that we can find a new president to welcome to our university,” Malone continued.
Eibeck’s retirement comes following a semester rife with controversy, with the Pacific community making its dissatisfaction known through various demonstrations during the fall semester. Though Eibeck’s statement stated that she informed Board of Regents Chair Huber that she was intending to retire last spring, it is unknown whether or not said demonstrations held any influence in her decision. “While serving any position for a decade, it does not come as a surprise when one decides the time has come for a new endeavor. However, that natural end doesn’t always coincide with turmoil and negative perception,” explains Spain, “I am unsure how much of the recent public outrage towards President Eibeck influenced her decision.”
In any case, the University plans to move forward with the support of the outgoing President in the course of the next five months, and with the leadership of Provost Pallovincini following Eibeck’s departure in the search for her replacement. Huber declared in the Board’s statement that, “We will engage the university community in helping define the important characteristics of the next leader and helping to set the stage for a successful search process.” “What happens next will be completely dependent on who is selected to be Pacific’s next President. I think the Provost will focus on stabilizing the campus while a search is conducted for the next President,” says student body President Grant Kirkpatrick ‘19, “My hope is that future student leaders demand participation in the selection process of the new President, and that they work tirelessly to ensure that Pacific is led by a President who is student-centered.”