Stories and Articles

R. Michael Pack (’70, Finance)

R. Michael Pack and the Montezuma statue


If you’ve ever driven south on Interstate 5 near the Balboa Ave./Garnet Ave. exit in San Diego, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the huge billboard for the San Diego Zoo looming above you.

Ever wondered who actually owned that sign?

The owner of the sign and the property it sits on is SunCal Outdoor Advertising. R. Michael “Mike” Pack (’70, finance) is the owner and CEO of SunCal and he is also a 2015 Monty Award winner, presented by the SDSU Alumni Association.

Mike became a real estate investor while he was still in college. “It was easier to buy real estate in San Diego back then,” he said. “I bought a rental unit in Mission Beach and just continued to go from there.”

A “Sign” Of The Future

Having worked his way through college with a job at Mission Outdoor Advertising, Mike got a good understanding of the business. In 1971, he purchased property on University Avenue in San Diego and constructed a billboard on it. This led to the founding of SunCal Outdoor Advertising and Mike proceeded to expand the business by supplying directional signage that led traffic to new housing subdivisions.

The Call That Started It All

Several years after establishing his business, Mike got a call from an SDSU student asking if he would donate $25 toward the purchase of a new telescope. “I asked him the full amount needed to buy the telescope and he told me they needed $11,000,” Mike recalled. After the student told him that the university had spent a year trying to raise the money, he said: “Why didn’t you call me a year ago and ask me for $11,000? There’s a lot of alumni out here who could help you, but we’ve never been asked.” With that, Mike wrote SDSU a check to cover the costs associated with the telescope.

Investing In The Next Generation of Aztecs

Professor William Nye


That was over 20 years ago. Since then, Mike and Chris (’70, social work), his wife of 42 years, have been generous supporters of numerous programs at the university, including SDSU’s nationally ranked international business program which is jointly administered by the College of Business Administration and the College of Arts and Letters. The Michael and Christine Pack International Business Suite is named for the Packs and they have funded scholarships, internships and study abroad experiences for students in the program. Additionally, Mike has funded student teams who have developed environmentally sustainable products or businesses at SDSU’s Zahn Center business center. Furthermore, his generosity extends to SDSU’s College of Engineering; various arts and music programs within SDSU’s College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts; and he has been a longtime benefactor of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego.

Mike currently serves on SDSU’s Campanile Foundation Board of Directors and has established the philanthropic Pack Foundation. In his free time, he is an avid yachtsman and golfer and he enjoys traveling the world. He is also a devoted skier and was an early enthusiast of the sport of helicopter skiing (heli-skiing) in Canada where he has skied close to 4 million vertical feet over a period of 30 years.