Our Mission and Commitments
Student Services mindfully serves a diverse, post-traditional student body and accompanies students throughout their academic career at Pacifica.
Student Services is Committed to:
- Providing opportunities, resources, and support for students that are aligned with their needs and the mission of the Institute.
- Promoting a culture and environment of inclusion, integrity, transformative learning, and critical thought.
- Developing a dynamic infrastructure that effectively engages the varied and multi-faceted services and systems across the landscape of the Institute.
- The holistic development and success of all students.
How We Help You
- Lifelong learning and empowerment. We believe in teaching skills (e.g. writing, research, and information technology) to our students throughout their time at Pacifica. Our goal is to empower our students so that they continually develop skills both here and as they continue towards their preferred career and life path.
- Accessibility. We provide several services that are accessible 24/7 and available anywhere to remove the physical barriers to your education, on your own device. These include the Library’s robust collections of eBooks, journals, dissertations, as well as its research assistance, and Pacifica’s learning management system (Desire2Learn), and student email.
- Digital and relational environments. While we realize that online communication/learning tools and video are likely already part of our students’ personal lives, we also strive to ensure we relate to our students on a personal and connected level, whether that is in-person or in digital environments.
- Practicality. The services we provide are congruent to Pacifica’s mission, relevant, and aligned with meaningful outcomes to ensure our students get the most out of their educational investment.
- Personalized assistance. We understand our students have individual preferences, backgrounds and expression. We strive to provide specialized personal guidance, resources, and advice when our students need them.
Lauren Lastra, M.P.P.A., is the Director of Academic Affairs and Student Services who is committed to a just and mission-centered approach to Institutional life. She is a member of Pacifica’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, President’s Council, and President’s Task Force on Campus Culture and Morale. In 2020, she is serving as the inaugural Staff Representative on the Board of Trustees. Prior to coming to Pacifica, Lauren lived in the Valparaiso region of Chile where she served as an Educator for the United Nations Development Program. She studied multicultural literature (B.A.) at University of California, Berkeley and public policy and administration (M.P.P.A) at California Lutheran University.
Nick Sabatino, M.P.A. serve as Co-Director of Academic Affairs and Student Services, as well as Administrator for the President’s Office. Nick also sits on Pacifica’s President’s Council, Safety Team, and is the administrator for the Institution Management Council meetings. In his over five years working at the Lambert campus, Nick has also served as Program Administrator of the Clinical and Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices program, which provided him valuable experience and insight that he uses today to support students and faculty through his current roles. Prior to Pacifica, he worked in online education after completing his B.A. from Villanova University. He recently earned an M.P.A. (Public Administration with an emphasis in Management) from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Victoria Bernhardt, M.A., is the Academic and Student Affairs Coordinator. Before coming to Pacifica, Victoria specialized in various mentorship, advising, and teaching roles. Victoria believes in experiential learning and authentic exploration that elevates the spirit. She considers herself a wilderness therapy expert, qualitative research specialist, and outdoor enthusiast. Victoria studied Psychology (B.S.) and Studio Art at Northern Arizona University. She earned her M.A. there as well, specializing in a pre-doctoral research-based Psychology degree.
Buddy System with Alumni Association
In our endeavor to provide a supportive learning experience for new and current students, the Alumni Association has launched an initiative called “The Buddy Program” in which each new or current student may be assigned an Alum Buddy. The Alum Buddy supports students — whether they are adjusting to the Pacifica culture, need someone to share the journey, or are discovering our two beautiful campuses — and offers focus and guidance for their chosen programs. This initiative is the next segment for our Alumni Connections Project.
Through this program, we will fulfill two main objectives:
- Helping new students integrate with Pacifica by providing them access via those who are already familiar with our culture, attitudes, and expectations
- Providing new students with a point of contact for general queries regarding day-to-day operations and issues.
Both students and alumni benefit from this arrangement, as we can all learn from one another!
What are Alumni Buddies? They are people like you who have already been through the process. You have first-hand experience and knowledge of how things work, and you have tips and ideas to share. The relationship between buddy and student is one of equals or peers. Alumni Buddies are here to help students look to the future and to think about the tools they need to get the results they desire.
How do students and alumni find out more or get involved? Please contact Dianne Travis-Teague at 805.879.7303, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disability Services and Title IX Coordinator
The mission of Disability Services is to collaborate with and empower students who have documented disabilities in order to coordinate support services and accommodations that enable equal access to the educational experience at Pacifica.
Students seeking accommodations should contact the Disability Services Coordinator to begin the process of registering with the Disability Services Office. The Disability Services Coordinator will work with the student to develop a suitable accommodation plan. Temporary impairments are not commonly regarded as disabilities, and only in rare circumstances will the degree of limitation rendered by a temporary impairment be substantial enough to qualify as a disability as described in this policy.
Lisa Runyen, JD is the ADA Coordinator in the Office of Student Disabilities. Lisa works to mitigate barriers faced by students with documented disabilities who seek equal access to, and enjoyment of the academic experience at Pacifica. She works collaboratively to establish academic accommodations tailored to each student’s specific challenges and learning styles. Lisa previously served on the Board of Directors for Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Santa Barbara, a non-profit adaptive horseback riding program for children and adults of all abilities. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys riding her horse on the trails of Santa Barbara’s open spaces and back country.
- Disability services policy questions
- Requesting accommodations
- Service animal policy questions
Diversity and Inclusion Council
The Diversity and Inclusion Council commits to actively support an inclusive, equitable, culturally competent educational community that respectfully welcomes, engages, and supports the richness of diversity (e.g., cultural, racial, gender, sexual orientation, class, geography, religion, learning style, able-bodiedness, age, and appearance).
Diversity in the student body, faculty, staff, board, and administration is an essential component of the learning experience at Pacifica Graduate Institute. The purpose of the Diversity and Inclusion Council is to nourish an atmosphere at Pacifica that promotes, respects, and encourages diversity in its fullest sense.
In order to achieve greater diversity, concerted effort is necessary in decision-making processes, recruitment practices, and retention efforts. To build an atmosphere of hospitality toward differences, Pacifica encourages cross-cultural dialogue, explores pedagogies that enlist awareness of diversity in the learning process, and regularly reviews its policies and procedures, as well as the curriculum with regard to issues of diversity.
The Council is unique in that it includes faculty, staff, student, alum, and executive administrative representatives. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Student Representative via email at email@example.com or visit https://www.pacifica.edu/about-pacifica/diversity-and-inclusion-council/.
The Education Council is composed of seven voting and several non-voting members. It meets twice monthly on Thursdays to consider policy issues and to review petitions that students submit for exceptions to school policy.
Any requests for exceptions to or changes in school policy must be made in writing and should be sent to the Education Council, via the Registrar, for consideration.
Generally, petitions involving financial issues should be sent to the Student Accounts Office to be reviewed by the Student Accounts Committee. If a petition that is approved by Education Council also involves a financial exception, it must also be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Management Council. Depending on the nature of the petition, the Dissertation Office or Registrar’s Office will notify the student in writing as to the decision made on the petition. Students may appeal Education Council decisions to the Provost who may make an independent decision or appoint a Review Committee. All appeals must be received within one quarter of Education Council’s ruling. Decisions made by the Provost are final.
Student Relations Liaison
The Student Relations Liaison position is intended as an additional support for students who are seeking information and mediation regarding the grievance processes related to policies described in the Student Handbook. One of the key responsibilities of the Liaison is to create communication between students and their faculty, staff, and administration regarding creation of fair and positive solutions that uphold Pacifica’s standards and values as well as to address student’s questions and concerns.
The Student Relations Liaison, Susan James, can be reached at a confidential phone line (805) 220-8707 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan James is member of the core faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and co-chair of the Community, Liberation, Indigenous, and Eco-Psychologies specialization of the M.A./Ph.D. program in Depth Psychology. Her work has focused on structural violence, transnational African spiritualities as resistance and innovation, visual design methodologies and research communication strategies. Her journal publications include American Journal of Community Psychology, Violence Against Women, and Women and Therapy. Susan earned a Ph.D. in Community Psychology from New York University, and has held faculty and senior research positions with several academic institutions and a national think tank.
Pacifica provides access to numerous online writing resources, as well as three writing tutors, free of charge to currently enrolled students who need help with course papers. This includes English as Second Language (ESL) writing assistance. Tutors may help with grammar, structure, MLA and APA formatting, and more. If their time allows, tutors may also assist with reviewing cover letters, resumes, CVs, etc. Tutors are free and are available on a first come, first serve basis.
Laura Simko, ESL Specialist
For more Writing Resources Information visit https://www.pacifica.edu/student-services/writing-resources-tutors/
We also help our students connect with independent editors for help with doctoral dissertations and master’s theses with individuals who are not employed by Pacifica, and who offer their services for a fee. Pacifica Graduate Institute, therefore, cannot mediate any disagreements between these independent parties and students.
Pacifica is also home to the Opus Archives and Research Center, which is a non-profit that preserves, develops, and extends the collections that have been placed in its care by eminent scholars in the field of depth psychology, mythology and the humanities. These collections are made available to students and scholars for research. Opus also offers scholarships and research grants which Pacifica students are eligible to apply for.