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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Presidents reflect on University experience

    John Schaefer, president from 1971-1982

    What have you been doing since your time as president?

    “”I headed a science foundation for about the next 25 years. I got involved in a lot of telescope projects.””

    If you could rate your experience as university president on a scale of one to 10, what would you rate it?

    “”Ten. I think it was a great period of transition for the university during which we became internationally distinguished as an institution.””

    What do you see as your biggest accomplishment as president?

    “”The change in mindset that the UA really didn’t have any limit to its potential. The creation of the Pac-10 (Conference) was certainly a great achievement. The creation of the Center for Creative Photography was another.””

    What was most trying about being the president of the university?

    “”Trying to keep all the constituents happy within the financial constraints that you face. You never have enough money to do all the things you want to do. I think that’s gotten a lot tougher since I left.””

     Are there any national, international or university events that stand out as highlights of your presidency?

    “”It was the end of the Vietnam War, which was a difficult time for the university. My first year on campus, we were worried about keeping Old Main from burning down.

    We had people patrolling all night long.””


    Manuel Pacheco, president from 1991-1997

    What have you been doing since your time as president?

    “”I went to be president of the University of Missouri system. I did that for about seven years. I’m retired and living in Phoenix now.””

    How would you rank your time at the university on a scale of one to 10?

    “”I’d say it was certainly at least a nine.””

    What was most trying during your time as President?

    “”There are so many different constituents who are vying for attention … It would be to balance all the needs of the institution with the resources the university has.””

    What do you see as your biggest accomplishment?

    “”I think a big thing achieved with a large degree of success was showing a research university can also be a good teaching university. Research and undergraduate education are, as I used to call it, two sides of the same coin.””

    Do you have any regrets or things you wish you would have done differently?

    “”In retrospect, there are always things you could’ve done differently. I think we did the right kinds of things. The university did well during that time period.””

    What were some of the highlights of your presidency?

    “”We had a large number of agreements with universities in Italy and Germany, which I think advanced the standing of the university primarily in research and allowing students to go over there to study.””

    What’s your favorite part of Homecoming?

    “”There are so many things. I think my favorite thing was to have alumni, former faculty and students on campus at the same time to celebrate the accomplishments of the university and athletic accomplishments as well. It was a great time for different generations of students and faculty to come together.””


    Peter Likins, president from 1997-2006

    What have you been doing since your time as President?

    “”I’ve written a book, and I’m active in the community … I’m not employed, and I’m determined to keep it that way.””

    How would you rank your time at the university on a scale of one to 10?

    “”I’d call it a nine.””

    What was most trying during your time as president?

    “”Dealing with the state Legislature. That’s a pretty simple question.””

    What do you see as your biggest accomplishment?

    “”I think I helped make the culture more inclusive, more accepting of diversity … In the long run, I think my influence on the culture will best stand the test of time.””

    Do you have any regrets or things you wish you would have done differently?

    “”No, I don’t. Part of that is my personality. I make mistakes like anyone else … You have to do what you think is right, and don’t dwell upon it afterwards.””

    What were some of the highlights of your presidency?

    “”9/11. I was extremely proud of our campus community and the people of Tucson. That was a really dangerous moment, and I was really proud of how our community responded.””

    What’s your favorite part of Homecoming?

    “”My wife and I love football, and Homecoming surrounds football.

    “”I don’t ever escape my dedication to the success of the football team.””

    On the 125th Anniversary:

    “”That is a celebration of the achievement of our faculty. I was profoundly impressed by the faculty during my time here.””

    What was especially rewarding about being president?

    “”I enjoyed just building an exciting and vibrant faculty.””


    What’s your favorite part about Homecoming?

    “”Kissing the Homecoming queen! And seeing old friends.””


    Robert Shelton, president from 2006-present

    On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate your experience as president so far?

    “”And 10 is the highest? Oh, gosh, I’d say nine. I love this job. It’s that way because — this will sound a bit Pollyanna-ish — there’s so much talent at the university. The students, the staff, the faculty — people are passionate about the place.””

    What’s the most difficult aspect of being president?

    “”In this day and age, it’s ensuring budget stability. I’d like to say budget growth, but no, it’s budget stability. What you want is for all the creative people here … you just want them to be able to do their creative work and not worry about all this other stuff. You want to facilitate that, so providing that kind of stability day in and day out, week in and week out, that’s a big challenge these days.””

    What’s your favorite aspect of the job?

    “”Well in general, it’s getting to meet all the people … it’s interacting with people on campus, in the community, in the country.””

    What do you see as your biggest accomplishment so far as president?

    “”Well, I would say maybe a first item would be the recruiting of a really strong cabinet administrative leadership team … and then, some of the programs we’ve put in place like the Arizona Assurance program. It’s not only helped the Arizona Assurance scholars but sent the message of accessibility to everyone.””

    Is there anything you’ve regretted or wish you’d done differently?

    “”Oh, I’m sure there are lots of things. Yeah, I wish I could be more convincing of the elected officials of the state to the value of education to the future of Arizona. We work hard at getting that message across, but sometimes it seems like an uphill battle.””

    Are there any overarching goals you’d like to complete during your remaining years as president?

    “”The three words we’re using to try to describe this university are access, quality and discovery. And it’s that excitement about discovery that sets us apart from other very good schools. The goals and the plans we have are to continue to improve on all of those … and continue to lead the state and the Southwest in important discoveries.””

    What have been some of the highlights of your presidency so far?

    “”Well we’re coming up on one, the 125th. Certainly the celebration that occurred when the (Phoenix) Mars Lander touched down successfully. Since we were running the operation from here, we had journalists from all over the world, hundreds of them — from Europe, Asia, South America, Australia — they were all here, participating in the excitement that was going on. So that was a huge one.””

    What’s your favorite part about UA Homecoming?

    “”Basically it’s the way the university opens its doors, lets everybody in and says, ‘This is your university.’ My favorite part is the alumni, the families come onto campus and make this their university.””

    On being president:

    “”I get to ride in the float in the parade. No, I mean it’s a privilege to have this job. It sounds corny, but really, it is.””

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