Tabitha Brown is hailed as one of Pacific University’s founders. But the 66-year-old widow, after surviving a harrowing trip across the Oregon Trail, never really imagined herself an entrepreneur.
She had no dreams of starting a business or creating a product. She could not foresee that the orphan asylum she created would spawn the Tualatin Academy and later Pacific University.Rather, she saw a problem in her community and had an idea to solve it.
In a letter in Pacific’s history book, Splendid Audacity, Brown recounts:
I said to Mr. [Harvey] Clark one day, “Why has Providence frowned on me and
left me poor in this world? Had he blessed me with riches, as he has many others, I know right what I would do. … I would establish myself in a comfortable house and receive all the poor children, and be a mother to them.”
He fixed his keen eyes on me to see if I was candid in what I said. “Yes I am,” said I.
“If so, I will try,” said he, “to help you.”
While entrepreneurship may not have been Brown’s goal, sharing an idea and then working to make it a reality truly is an act of innovation. She not only served the need of her community; she created the impetus for an organization that would touch thousands of lives.
Today, countless Pacific students and alumni are following Brown’s example. There is so much potential among our ranks, for commercial success and for altruistic impact. Call them makers, entrepreneurs, inventors, or problem solvers, Pacific people are brimming with the impetus to create; to say, like Brown, “I have an idea.”
And here at Pacific, we strive to be true to the vision of our founders.
By providing a supportive and diverse learning community, by creating personal relationships, by offering an affordable and enriching education, and by developing a network of resources available for a lifetime, we seek to answer as Clark did:
“I will help you.”