Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why Pacific?

By Jim Silkensen '67

I grew up in Denver and in high school was very shy and bashful.  My high school counselor recognized this and recommended that I pick a college far enough from home that I would be on my own and not going home every weekend.  

From two vacations in the Pacific Northwest,  I loved Oregon and wanted a smaller university, so I picked Pacific out of a college catalog. A very lucky choice!

Pacific had a student body of about 1,200 at that time  and I was quickly able to make friends. In addition, class sizes were small enough that I got to know my professors and it was obvious that they cared about their students and imparting knowledge that would help us succeed following graduation.  

I particularly remember Dr. Prince's English literature courses that fostered my love of reading and writing, Dr. Chips bringing history to life and his "blue book" essay questions that forced us to really study and see the big picture, Doc Roberts' biology courses that were great fun and great learning experiences, band/orchestra/choir under the leadership of Mr. Shaw, Mr. Busch & Mr. Spiro and Art Wilcox's speech class that forced me to get up and speak in front of others and started me on my way to a skill that turned out to be essential in every job that I held.  

Gamma Sigma fraternity pushed me into asking girls to dances, working as a team with my fraternity brothers on various projects and running for class office. Pacific's traditions were also very meaningful to me, including the annual Wassail Party, the Hawaiian Club's annual Lu'au and the Noise Parade & Freshman Bonfire at homecoming. 

I also met the love of my life and my wife of 45+ years, Candace (Willson) Silkensen '69. We were married by Professor McDowell at First Congregational Church and had our wedding reception in Washburne Hall. 

Silkensen '67 submitted this blog as a response to the Notes from Under the Oaks column from the February 2014 Alumni eNews. To read more news from the University and alumni, please visit

Notes from Under the Oaks | February 2014

For an alumnus from rural eastern Washington or from Leeward Oahu the answer might be “because Pacific changed my life.”
For our 2,356 alumni couples the answer might be “because I met my love at Pacific.”
As an alumna, before coming to work for Pacific, my answer might have been summed up with the previous two responses. Now, after seven years as an employee, I’ve gotten to know this place even better. I now can’t answer this question without acknowledging the many ways our students and alumni aspire to make the world better.
For the students in Dental Health Science who are preparing to Give Kids a Smile later this spring or Optometry students preparing for spring break in Costa Rica with Amigos the answer might pertain to making kids healthier. These are just two examples of dozens of service-based, life-changing programs supported by our students and alumni.
Photo from the Dental Health Science program "Give Kids a Smile"
I believe all Universities possess the power to transform lives, but each place has deeply meaningful stories attached. (I'm also a tad biased in believing Pacific has more of these stories than other Universities).
For example Michael Sproyles ’15 tells a story of participating in the Speech and Debate team and finding incredible confidence.
Jackie Mrachek ’00, PT ’03 tells a story of developing necessary skills at Pacific which she now uses to help build confidence in others.
David Cook OD ’78 found the inspiration for a novel along with the ability to give the gift of sight.
Mike Geraci ’91 tells us about the coaches, faculty and staff at Pacific truly believe in students.
I’d love to hear your story. Did Pacific change you? Did your time here allow you the opportunity to improve the lives of others? How do you answer the question, “why Pacific?”
Send us your story and, as always, don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance.
Best wishes,
Martha Calus-McLain ‘03
Director of Alumni Relations | | 503-352-2764