MANUEL PACHECO HAS never cottoned to his office desk in Tucson,
a holdover from his predecessor and little more than a table. He
With drawers, he says, you can stow work away when visitors
come and present a neat desk.
For almost six years now, he's put up with the drawer-less desk
while his staff has repeatedly suggested that he requisition one
more to his liking and habits.
"I don't want to spend the money," he says. Forget also about a
flashy official car. With his auto allowance, he leases an Acura,
two-door and plain white.
Is the unassuming president of the University of Arizona and
president-elect of the University of Missouri a tightwad? While he
ponders the question, his wife, Karen, said to be the more
gregarious of the pair, answers for him.
He beams her way, as if deferring to her superior judgment of
In the art-filled president's house in Tucson, the Pachecos are
talking about their move to Columbia, Mo., where he starts his new
job Aug. 1. The timing suits a man who minds the 115-degree summers
in this mountain-rimmed dish of desert.
Karen Pacheco, a much-moved daughter of an Air Force officer,
says she's up for yet another pulling up of stakes. But she'll miss
being close to Mexico, where she makes occasional forays to collect
pottery, displayed on the fireplace mantle.
The pottery will come with her, along with a couple of pieces
of antique Southwestern furniture, a few paintings and some
Kachina, or Hopi I ndian, dolls. Most of the paintings, antiques
and art objects in the house belong to the university and will stay
behind. So might the Pachecos' obvious indulgence, their personal
Mercedes, which they think might be too showy for mid-Missouri.
Manuel Pacheco is making this move as the unanimous choice of
the University of Missouri's sometimes fractious Board of Curators.
What He Was Up Against
Six years ago, he arrived on the Tucson campus - red-brick and
red-tile-roof modern with a verdant, palm-lined mall - far less
auspiciously. He was added to the list of finalists for the
presidency only after Hispanic groups complained that there wasn't
a Hispanic candidate. The Board of Regents went on to hire him - on
a split vote, eight to three.
He was president of the University of Houston's downtown campus
then and of the University of Texas at Laredo before that. In the
dissenters' eyes, he was farm team, not ready to play in a league
as big and complex as the University of Arizona.
So Pacheco knew he would have to overcome "a higher level of
skepticism" than the average new president.
Worse yet, between the time he accepted the job and started it,
the state Legislature slashed $40 million from the university's
annual $220 million appropriation.
The new president arrived announcing an era of austerity. Some
programs were cut; others merged. Six hundred jobs out of 10,000
were lost, half of them faculty jobs, most by attrition but some by
"These were very unpopular decisions," Pacheco admits.
He insists that he made them fairly and deliberately, involving
as manypeople as possible in the discussion and analysis. His style
is collaborative, not top down, he says.
"Decisions don't get made on the spot, and some people
interpret that as lack of decisiveness," he says.
In a faculty survey made public a year ago, he was put down as
weak, ineffective and unavailable. As Pacheco's partisans point
out, though, only 20 percent of the faculty bothered to answer the
Doug Canfield, a regents professor of English and comparative
culture and literary studies, says he has always found Pacheco
approachable and, in a calm way, resolute. Canfield lays much of
the faculty distrust of the president to salaries, low on average,
and nervousness about job security in today's chancy academic
"That's where a lot of this hostility (toward Pacheco) comes
from," Canfield says. …