News and Events

Donald V. DeRosa to Retire as President of University of the Pacific

Donald V. DeRosa will retire from his post as president of the University in June 2009.

April  25, 2008

University of the Pacific President Donald V. DeRosa, who has led dramatic improvements at the University in quality and selectivity of the student body, academic distinctiveness, national visibility and financial strength, will retire on June 30, 2009, after fourteen years as President, announced Dr. Dianne Philibosian, chair of the University's Board of Regents.

DeRosa, 67, began his tenure as the 23rd President of Pacific on July 1, 1995. During the past 13 years, Pacific faculty, students, programs and alumni have received numerous national awards and distinctions; applications to the college of arts and sciences and to Pacific's eight professional schools have dramatically increased; and the endowment has more than tripled. The University raised more than $330 million in a recent comprehensive campaign, highlighted by a $100 million estate gift secured by DeRosa from the late Robert and Jeannette Powell.

In a letter to the University community, DeRosa said, "The past 13 years have been the most rewarding of my professional life and I am deeply grateful for the privilege of serving Pacific as its 23rd President. My decision to retire a little over a year from now primarily reflects my desire to spend more time with Karen, my five children and four grandchildren." DeRosa also expressed thanks for the contributions of the Pacific community, noting that "The reinvigoration of the University over the last decade has been made possible by the dedication and hard work of all of the faculty, staff, students, and alumni from our three campuses."

Following his retirement in 2009, DeRosa will hold the title of President Emeritus and serve as a consultant to the University, assisting the University to advance strategic initiatives related to the Brubeck Institute, the Powell Fund and development, among other responsibilities.

"I plan to devote myself over this next year to advancing the University in areas of critical importance as identified in our strategic plan, Pacific Rising," said DeRosa. "In addition, after retirement, the Board has asked me to continue to help Pacific in an ongoing focused capacity and I am eager to do so. You can be assured that I will do all in my power, whenever called upon, to help strengthen our great University."


DeRosa's Presidency is distinguished by numerous accomplishments from 1995 to 2008:

  • Increased the size of the student body by nearly 700, to 6,235
  • Tripled the number of freshman applications for admission, to nearly 6,000
  • Applications to the schools of Dentistry and Pharmacy regularly rate among the highest nationwide
  • Increased SAT scores on applications for admission by 100 points, to 1200
  • Increased diversity of student body, faculty and staff
  • Increased study-abroad participation and more than doubled the number of international students
  • More than quadrupled external funding for research, scholarship and public service to $38.3 million
  • Exceptional student and alumni satisfaction - 83% of alumni are "very" satisfied with their Pacific educational experience
  • 23 conference athletic championships and 52 NCAA tournament appearances, and more than 1,100 Big West Scholar-Athletes

"It is common at the end of a successful president's tenure to characterize his contributions as immeasurable," said Jonathan Brown '68, president of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. "In Don's case, that is inadequate. His contributions to the University are, indeed, very measurable. During his tenure we saw the university grow in terms of student and faculty quality, facilities, national prominence and financial strength. As a graduate, I am enormously grateful for all these very measurable new levels of distinction for California's oldest university."


DeRosa has overseen the growth of academic programs, including the addition of an undergraduate program in bioengineering; a Ph.D. in educational psychology with an emphasis in school psychology; and undergraduate/professional degree programs in business, education, law and pharmacy. A heightened emphasis on collaboration and innovation has resulted in emerging programs focused on global social entrepreneurship and a pipeline project encouraging disadvantaged high school students to consider legal education and careers.

Under DeRosa, Pacific's professional schools have expanded aggressively to meet critical needs. The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, long considered a national leader in educating practice-ready dentists, has added a three-year bachelor's degree in dental hygiene, a dental hygiene clinic on the Stockton campus, a residency in oral maxillofacial surgery at Oakland's Highland Hospital; and an advanced education in general dentistry residency. Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, noted for top-twenty rankings for its trial advocacy and international law programs, has established the Global Center for Business Development, the Capital Center for Government Law and Policy and the Center for Legal Advocacy and Dispute Resolution. The school has created the Journal of National Security Law and Policy and a new series of texts on global law. It also established a J.S.D. in water law and an LL.M. in advocacy. The Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences on the Stockton campus has incorporated degree programs in speech-language pathology and physical therapy, as well as a joint M.S./Ph.D. Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences Program. The school now has the largest applicant pool and one of the best board-passage rates of any pharmacy school in the country. In 2003, the school opened a 55,000 sq. ft. Health Sciences Learning Center & Clinics building, reflecting a more collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to its curriculum.

Other academic highlights include:

  • Implementation of a structured program of academic reviews and strategic planning to enhance academic focus, distinctiveness and visibility
  • Growth in faculty orientation, mentoring and development programs, including the development of the Center for Teaching and Learning
  • An experiential learning guarantee, assuring that every student can participate in hands-on learning, mentored undergraduate research and/or internships
  • Development of a whole-student development and leadership initiative based on social and emotional intelligence competencies
  • Emphasis on undergraduate research, providing opportunities to students often not found at the undergraduate level
  • Installation of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 2007
  • Growth in interdisciplinary programs as a hallmark of a Pacific education
  • Enhanced partnerships between programs leading to accelerated degrees

Institutes and Centers

New institutes and research centers have gained national recognition and won awards, specializing in the study of issues important to Pacific and the region.

  • The Brubeck Institute (2000), celebrating the legacy of the University's most celebrated alumni, Dave '42 and Iola '45 Brubeck; the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet has performed internationally and Clint Eastwood chairs the Institute's star-studded Honorary Board
  • The Jacoby Center for Public Service and Civic Leadership (2000), encouraging the civic engagement of Pacific students and faculty through community service and research
  • The Natural Resources Institute (2003), serving as a neutral forum for the debate of critical, controversial, natural resource issues
  • The Business Forecasting Center (2004), one of a handful of university-based economic forecasting centers, specializing in California's Central Valley
  • The Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship (2006), applying business and management skills to tackle chronic societal problems with sustainable solutions


DeRosa has championed efforts to moderate annual increases in tuition, recognizing the economic diversity of Pacific students-many of whom are first generation students.

  • Each year since 2001, the University has been ranked by US News and World Report as a "Best Value" among the top 250 doctoral universities in the nation, consistently ranking in the top 40.
  • Pacific is the only University to fully match the Cal Grant for enrolled students (nearly 30% of admitted students are Cal Grant eligible)

Fundraising and Finances

During DeRosa's Presidency, the University's financial health has improved dramatically and fundraising has reached new highs. In 2007, the University completed a $330 comprehensive campaign, far exceeding a goal of $200 million. The campaign included a $100 million estate gift from the late Robert and Jeannette Powell, the result of DeRosa's long-time friendship with the Powells. The Powell gift was the 16th largest gift received by any type of institution in the United States in 2007. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, only 29 other universities worldwide (and only six in California) had ever received a larger gift.

  • Endowment growth from $63 million to $220 million
  • Twelve straight years of year-end surpluses
  • Three improvements in the University's bond rating from Baa2 to A2

Facilities and Infrastructure

DeRosa has expanded and improved campus facilities for teaching, housing and student life.

  • $200 million in new and renovated classroom buildings, laboratories and libraries
  • Two new residence halls, with renovations of all other residence halls
  • A new university center and a biological sciences building, both scheduled to open in fall 2008
  • A new baseball stadium and other athletics facilities
  • Enhanced use of information technology and access to wireless networks throughout each campus
  • 100% occupancy in residence halls
  • Increased the number of students living on the Stockton campus from 49% in 1997 to 58% in 2007
  • Reinvigorated recreation and campus activities programs


DeRosa has taken a leadership role in the academic community. He served a term on the American Council on Education's (ACE) Commission on Leadership and Institutional Advancement. ACE is the nation's coordinating higher education association and is a forum for advancing leadership in higher education. DeRosa has also served as vice chair of the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. He is a member of the Brubeck Institute Honorary Board as well as the board of directors for the San Joaquin County Partnership and the Business Council of San Joaquin County.


DeRosa is only the fifth president to hold office since the University moved to Stockton in 1924. Before coming to Pacific, DeRosa was the provost at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, serving as the chief academic officer. Prior to that, he taught and conducted research in the area of memory and cognition and served as chair of the Department of Psychology at Bowling Green State University. A native of Westchester County, New York, DeRosa earned his bachelor's degree from American International College in Springfield, Mass., and his M.A and Ph.D. at Kent State University.

Accompanied by his yellow lab, Roxie, on daily campus walks, DeRosa rarely misses an opportunity to greet students or to engage a tour group of high school seniors and their families in conversation about the campus. "I love to talk with our talented students who are developing into campus and community leaders and to persuade prospective students to consider Pacific. I live on campus, and I take great pride in our community."

DeRosa's wife, Karen, has also been an active member of the campus community. She participates in numerous campus events and assisted in the design development of the Baun Fitness Center, the soon-to-be-completed University Center and the Alumni House (still in development). "Karen has been a fantastic partner during our years at Pacific, and this community has been a great place to raise our family," DeRosa said.

President and Karen DeRosa have two sons: Michael, who will graduate from Santa Clara University in June, and David, a junior at Lincoln High School in Stockton. He also has three adult children, Carol, Joseph, and Lauren, who live in North Carolina.

Category Type: University

Contact:  Claudia Morain, 209.946.2313,