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NMSU Regents honor Pacheco with Regent's Medal

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents presented Interim President Manuel Pacheco with the Regent's Medal May 10.


A group photo of the NMSU Board of Regents presenting a medal to Interim President Manuel Pacheco.
The New Mexico State University Board of Regents presented Interim President Manuel Pacheco with the Regent's Medal May 10. At the presentation are, from left, Regent Jordan Banegas, Regent Javier Gonzales, Regent Mike Cheney, Pacheco, Regent Kari Mitchell and Regent Isaac Pino. (NMSU Photo by Darren Phillips)

According to NMSU policy, "The Regent's Medal shall be awarded on suitable occasions and with appropriate ceremonies to persons who have made outstanding contributions to the university, to the State of New Mexico, or to the United States." Since the inception of this medal 40 years ago there have only been nine individuals bestowed this honor.

Pacheco joins the ranks of former presidents Hugh Milton II and Roger Corbett; former academic vice president William O'Donnell; Las Cruces realtor and former regent Seaborn Collins; astronomy professor Clyde Tombaugh; biology professor Maude Tully Guthrie; former presidential spouse Jean Thomas; former NMSU student athlete, professional football player and professor Charles Johnson; and alumna and former regent Laura Mathers Conniff.

In presenting the medal, Regent's Chair Mike Cheney said, "We could recite a litany of Dr. Pacheco's many accomplishments, but what we choose to speak to today is his passion for our state, his passion for the power of education to transform lives and his passion for NMSU. He leaves NMSU a better place than when he arrived and he leaves each of us better individuals for the time we were able to learn from his daily example."

Cheney said it is Pacheco's passion for New Mexico that has brought him back twice to lead NMSU through a time of transition and change.

"In both instances he forged a living testament to what it takes to be a leader," Cheney said. "His examples were his calm and self-confident manner and strict self-discipline to do not what was easy, but what was needed."

Before becoming interim president in October 2012, Pacheco was retired and living in Arizona, but prior to his retirement in 2003, he was president of the four-campus University of Missouri System. Previously, he had been president at the University of Arizona, the University of Houston-Downtown and Laredo State University. In 2006, he also served as interim president at New Mexico Highlands in Las Vegas, N.M., and had previously served NMSU in the same capacity in 2008-2009.

Pacheco, the oldest of 12 children, was born in Colorado and grew up in New Mexico. He holds a bachelor's degree from New Mexico Highlands University and a doctorate from The Ohio State University. After serving as a high school language teacher he held increasingly responsible faculty and administrative posts at a number of institutions including Florida State University, the University of Colorado, California State University-San Diego, and the University of Texas at El Paso.