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Pacific Union College
Pacific Union College Sign 2008.jpg
Motto Where Nature and Revelation Unite in Education
Established 1882
Type Private Liberal Arts College
President Heather Knight, Ph.D.
Students 1500
Location Angwin, California, United States
Campus Rural, 200 acres (0.81 km2)
Nickname Pioneers
Website PUC Home Page
Pacific Union College logo.png

Pacific Union College (PUC) is a private Seventh-day Adventist liberal arts college located in Angwin, a small town in the hills above northern California's Napa Valley. While a few masters degrees are offered, PUC is primarily dedicated to undergraduate education. It offers a variety of bachelor's degrees from biology to religion, English to business administration, and a master's degree in education.



Pacific Union College was founded as Healdsburg Academy (changed within a year to Healdsburg College) in the northern Sonoma county town of Healdsburg in 1881 with Sidney Brownsberger as its first President. PUC is the second oldest college in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination's educational system (after Battle Creek College, now Andrews University, founded in 1874), and was California’s twelfth college.[1] In 1906 the name was changed to Pacific Union College, and in 1909 it moved to its current location in Angwin, on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley. One reason the college was moved to Angwin was because of its beautiful rural setting, which continues to be a defining characteristic.

Pacific Union College is 70 miles (110 km) northeast of San Francisco, 52 miles (85 km) from the Pacific Ocean, and 180 miles (290 km) southwest of the skiing resorts in Truckee and Lake Tahoe. It is located in the hills above the Napa Valley, one of the world’s top wine producing regions, and the second most popular tourist destination in California, after Disneyland.


Pacific Union College has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of their "Top Tier Schools" in the Comprehensive College category (Western Region) for more than 15 years.[2] PUC has a particular strength in pre-medical and health related programs, and the percentage of its students accepted into medical school each year is typically among the top ten nation-wide.[3][4] Pacific Union College operates on the Quarter based academic calendar.

In 2006 the faculty, administration and Board of Trustees made a formal decision that PUC remain a college and not change its name to university, as many other small private colleges did in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The decision to remain a college was based on the institution's commitment to quality liberal arts undergraduate teaching.


Pacific Union College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).[5] The following programs and departments also have been recognized by their national accrediting bodies: Business Administration, Education, Music, Nursing, and Social Work.


Students number approximately 1,500[6] with a student/teacher ratio of 13:1.[7] The most popular departments are Business, Nursing, Biology, and Psychology & Social Work. There are more than 50 clubs, Honor's Associations and Student Ministries active on campus (e.g. Asian Student Association, Pre-Med Club, Dramatic Arts Society, Homeless Ministry, Psi chi). There are several student publications including the Campus Chronicle (newspaper)[2], the Funnybook (facebook), and Quicksilver (literary). Weekly attendance at community meetings with a religious focus is required, and religion courses are part of the required general education program. A residential college, the majority of students reside in campus dorms, all single-sex. The dining commons only serves vegetarian and vegan fare.

Pacific Union College has a small select choir called "I Cantori" (the singers) that focuses on religiously themed music and high quality performance. The current director of "I Cantori" is Bruce Rasmussen.

Pacific Union College owns and operates the Albion Field Station, in Mendocino County on the Pacific coast and the Albion River. The Station is designed for educational purposes, its tide pools, estuaries and diverse fauna offering ideal learning opportunities.

Elmshaven, the last home of Ellen G. White, one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination and regarded by the church as an inspired prophet, is 5 miles (8 km) from the PUC campus. White had been actively involved in both Healdsburg College, and in the move of the college to Angwin. White purchased Elmshaven in 1900 and lived there until her death in 1915. The Victorian home has been registered as a National Historic Landmark since 1993, and is currently owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Elmshaven is open to the public for free tours.


Pacific Union College participates as the “Pioneers” in the California Pacific Conference, a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, in women’s volleyball, men’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, and men’s and women’s basketball. PUC has been awarded the “California Pacific Conference Team Sportsmanship Award” twice since 2003 (2002-03 and 2005-06). This award signifies the school that displays outstanding sportsmanship and exemplifies the true spirit of the “Champions of Character” program set forth by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Simpson University won this award the first three times it was presented. PUC also maintains an active intramural athletic program.

St. Helena Hospital

St. Helena Hospital (originally St. Helena Sanitarium) is 4 miles (7 km) from the PUC campus. St. Helena Hospital is a 181-bed full-service community hospital offering state-of-the-art medical, surgical and diagnostic services. It serves as a regional center for cardiac services, outpatient surgery, obstetrics, occupational medicine, pain rehabilitation, plastic & reconstructive surgery, pulmonary rehabilitation, sleep disorders, home care services and women’s services. SHH is a member of Adventist Health, a group of 20 hospitals in the western United States. SHH holds a teaching affiliation with Pacific Union College.

Dramatic Arts Society

The Dramatic Arts Society is a campus club that was formed in 1990 by students Kimberly Howard and Joel Kindrick. The club's constitution states that it must be student run, with a faculty adviser overseeing activities, and that its mission is to give students opportunities in the performing arts field. The current faculty adviser and "artist in residence" is Mei Ann Teo. Hundreds of students are now alumni of this club with many going on to professions in the entertainment field. Among the many DAS productions over the years have been: "Grandma, Women's Lib and Politics", Hamlet, The Crucible, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Fiddler on the Roof and Red Books (see for a more complete list of DAS productions).

Rasmussen Art Gallery

The Rasmussen Art Gallery, located in the heart of the Pacific Union College campus mall, offers students and community a stimulating and enriching cultural dimension in the visual arts. The gallery’s exhibitions provide exposure to contemporary work as well as to historically significant art. The gallery hosts six shows each school year and features work from invited artists as well as from faculty and students. Previous exhibitions have included artists such as Vernon Nye, Pirkle Jones, John Maxon, Nathan Greene, Arminee Chahbazian, Earl Thollander, and hosts of others. The gallery is run by the visual arts department (see The gallery is open regularly 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday during exhibitions. Gallery admission is free to the public.

Rieger pipe organ

The Pacific Union College Church, on campus, houses a Rieger organ, recognized as a technical and visual masterpiece. Installation was completed on October 10, 1981. The work of 40 craftsman from the Rieger Orgelbau in the town of Schwarzach, Austria, the Organ is distinguished by its French influences. It has several open flutes, Cornet pitches on all manual divisions, a full-bodied Cromorne, trompettes on three manuals, and reed stops designed, built and voiced after French models by Don Bedos. It rises 50 feet (15 m) above the front stage of the sanctuary, and its 4,000 pipes range in size from two inches to 20 feet (6.1 m). The frame is constructed of African mahogany to match the interior of the church. This is one of the largest organs that Rieger Orgelbau company had constructed at the time of installation (1980-1981).[8]

The PUC Church Organ has become a landmark instrument; organ committees from around the country and world have visited the campus to examine and play the Rieger. It has served as the primary model for a number of organs worldwide, including the instruments in the First Presbyterian Churches in both St. Helena and Oakland, in Portland, Oregon's Sunnyside Adventist Church, at Union College in Nebraska, and in a concert hall in Hong Kong. Three compact discs have been recorded in the Pacific Union College Church on the organ. In 1996 a group of German organists included the PUC Rieger as one of the 35 most important organs in the world. [9]

Attempts to increase endowment

In the summer of 2006 the PUC board and administration embarked on an ambitious campaign to enlarge its endowment and reduce its dependence on student tuition through the sale and development of a significant portion of its large land holdings.

The possible development of land was met with strong opposition, both in the college and in the surrounding Angwin community.[10] The initial proposed development included over 500 new homes and improvements to local businesses and shops.[11] Under this plan, the project was projected to increase the college's endowment by a potential 100 million dollars over ten years. The college and developer Triad describe it as an ecovillage, based on green and environmentally sustainable values and principles. Some argue, however, that the proposal envisions building housing on hundreds of acres of land that has historically been defined as agricultural. Some have also voiced concerns about a dramatic increase in population, which may overwhelm the town's capacity to handle increased traffic and other new demands.[12] The original proposal specified master planned development, conservation easements and lot sales affecting approximately 885 acres (3.58 km2) out of PUC's current holdings of over 1,800 acres (7.3 km2).

On April 3, 2007, PUC announced that in response to community input it had decided to reduce the planned number of housing units by 200, from 591 to 391. Allen Spence, spokesman for the opposition group calling itself "Save Rural Angwin", was quoted in the Napa Valley Register as saying that his group would continue to actively oppose the project "unless the college brings its proposal down to 191 units."[13] As of Spring 2008, the proposed development continues to be the subject of passionate local debate, but no final decision has yet been made.

In October, 2007 it was announced in local newspapers that 60 acres (240,000 m2) of college land that include the airport in Angwin was being considered for purchase by Napa County. This sale could potentially increase the endowment of the college by an estimated 20 million dollars.[14]

See also


  • Schwarz, Richard W.; Greenleaf, Floyd (2000) [1979]. Light Bearers: A History of the Seventh-day Adventist church (Revised Edition ed.). Silver Spring, Maryland: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Department of Education. ISBN 0-8163-1795-X.  
  • Walter Utt (1996) [1968]. A Mountain, A Pickax, A College: Walter Utt's history of Pacific Union College (Third Edition ed.). Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association. ISBN 0965078906.  

External links

Coordinates: 38°34′09″N 122°26′29″W / 38.5693°N 122.4413°W / 38.5693; -122.4413

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