Atiyeh received the Pacific University Service Award in 1979. During the presentation of the award, University President James Vince Miller noted, "We do not often give a University Service Award to persons who are not closely associated with Pacific University. In fact, you are the first. We give it in recognition to your assistance to private higher education throughout your legislative career and now as governor [...]."

The statement was true then, and Atiyeh's commitment to higher education held true as well throughout his time as governor. Since 1979, however, Atiyeh became a Pacfic University trustee, and, later, a trustee emeritus. In donating his papers to the Pacific University Archives , he added another enduring component to his legacy at Pacific.