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 - By Edina A.T. Strum
 - Arizona Daily Wildcat
 - January 15, 1997

Arizona Daily Wildcat


Pacheco resigns, will stay through 1997

UA President Manuel Pacheco announced his resignation last week, saying he believes the major goals he set when he arrived in 1991 "are either accomplished or well on the way to being accomplished."

He plans to remain at the University of Arizona until the end of his current contract, which will expire Dec. 31.

"The years I have led the University of Arizona have been the most exciting of my professional career," Pacheco said.

When he arrived at the UA, Pacheco set out four major objectives for himself. Those included:

  • Improving the undergraduate educational experience for students;

  • Ensuring the research mission of the university was not harmed by the first goal;

  • Establishing a strategic planning process that considered each element of the institution; and

  • Establishing a more effective governance of the institution.

The challenges of making these changes at a research university, where change is very slow or impossible, made fulfilling these objectives particularly rewarding, he said.

Members of the Arizona Board of Regents said they were not surprised by the announcement because Pacheco had spoken openly about his plans several months earlier.

"I told them that I would be going through a process of self-evaluation over the next several months," Pacheco said. "I reminded them that when I came here I expressed the belief that five to seven years was an approximate time line in which a president could be effective."

After that time, "there is a real potential for things to deteriorate for whoever is sitting in the president's office," he said. "The support and enthusiasm that was there at the outset is no longer there."

Comments from the regents and campus leaders suggest Pacheco still has many supporters.

"I think he has done an excellent job as president," said Regents President John Munger. "He has improved undergraduate education, emphasized a core curriculum, and he's truly created a student-centered research university."

Jonathan Schmitt, student regent and UA agriculture senior, said, "Pacheco did a very good job as president. He came into the university at a difficult time and made the university more efficient."

Schmitt also emphasized Pacheco's commitment to undergraduate education and his balancing of the teaching and research responsibilities of the university.

Rhonda Wilson, Associated Students president, said Pacheco was always open to hearing the students' perspectives on campus issues - even if he did not agree with them.

The search for Pacheco's successor will be conducted by the regents, who are already recruiting an applicant-screening committee, Munger said.

The committee will be looking for someone who can continue the UA's path to becoming a top student-centered research university, he said.

"This person must be able to present a vision and lead the community," Munger said.

The search should begin by the end of January and will last between four and six months, he said. Applicants will then be interviewed and the new president chosen by a vote of the board.

It is too soon to know the total cost of the search, Munger said, but the UA will have to pay for the process out of its operating budget.

Munger also said there will be a student presence on the screening committee in addition to the student regent.

However, he is not sure yet how additional student input will be incorporated.

Regents Munger and Schmitt both emphasized the decision to leave the UA was entirely Pacheco's.

"He wasn't forced out," Schmitt said.

Pacheco said he does not have another job offer but will consider remaining at the UA as a faculty member.

"I enjoy the students. I enjoy the classroom, and I am good at it. This is an extremely good university with a good faculty, and it's an association I would very much appreciate," he said.

Pacheco's UA tenure is in the College of Education's language, reading and culture program. His specialization is in language acquisition, which is the area in which Pacheco said he would work if he stays at the university.

However, remaining at the UA is only one of many possibilities.

"I don't want to leave anybody with the impression that that is what I am going to do," Pacheco said.