Manuel Trinidad Pacheco was president of the University of Houston-Downtown when he was appointed as the 17th president of the University of Arizona in 1991. Prior to that he was president of Laredo State University from 1984 to 1988, executive director for planning at the University of Texas in 1984, associate dean of the College of Education at the University of Texas-El Paso from 1982 to 1986, and served in several other academic positions at other universities beginning in 1968.
Pacheco was born on May 30, 1941, in Rocky Ford, Colo. He received a bachelor’s degree in languages from New Mexico Highlands University in 1962. He went on to earn a master’s degree in Spanish in 1966 and a doctorate in foreign language education in 1969, both from Ohio State University.
During his tenure as president, Pacheco focused on strengthening undergraduate education while maintaining the University’s excellence in research and fostering the development of the student-centered research university. Pacheco championed the idea of building the below-ground Integrated Learning Center for freshmen even when the proposed design was controversial. He pledged to build both the Student Union Memorial Center and the ILC at a time when many believed the buildings could not be constructed simultaneously. The ILC was named the Manuel Pacheco Integrated Learning Center in the president’s honor when it was dedicated on Oct. 6, 2004.
Pacheco also helped the University acquire the Science and Technology Park in 1994, creating a nationally regarded research and development facility. The park was named Outstanding Research Park of 2001 by the Association of University Research Parks. Research awards, as measured by the National Science Foundation, grew from $273 million to $285 million during Pacheco's presidency.
In 1998, the Karen and Manuel T. Pacheco Endowed Scholarship was established to recognize the contributions the Pachecos made to the University. The scholarship is awarded to students who demonstrate leadership skills, service to society, and a commitment to higher education. After Pacheco left the University, he was president of the University of Missouri System, which operates universities across the state of Missouri, until he retired in 2003.
In 1997, the Arizona Board of Regents awarded the Regents' Medal to Pacheco. In 2004, the board designated him President Emeritus.