LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State University Board of Regents on Wednesday morning named Manuel Pacheco, 71, as the interim president of the university following last week's resignation of Barbara Couture.
"His credentials are immense," NMSU Regent Javier Gonzales said after the announcement. "But he's more than that. Dr. Pacheco is a New Mexican who loves New Mexico."
Pacheco, a New Mexico native, was interim president at NMSU from June 2009 to December 2009, before Couture was hired. A source close to NMSU told ABC-7 Tuesday night that Pacheco would be named as interim president.
"I am looking forward to talking with faculty leaders and getting their input," Pacheco said. "I was telling someone earlier that if I were confirmed for this position, I was going to enjoy it even more than I did the last time."
A national search for a permanent president began immediately after the formal announcement.
Pacheco is a former president of the University of Arizona and the University of Missouri. He previously was interim president at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M.
The announcement naming Pacheco interim president was made at the Corbett Center on the NMSU campus before a half-filled auditorium.
The crowd welcome Pacheco with a standing ovation.
Eight people signed up to speak during the public comment period before the announcement was made.
Pacheco is taking charge of a university that even its own board has admitted is in trouble.
Several faculty members agree bringing Pacheco back was a smart decision.
"He did a good job at the task he was given when he was interim before. I think he has a good idea of what the campus is like," NMSU professor Gary Rayson told ABC-7.
At last week's meeting, the board brought up a laundry list of challenges the university is facing.
"By virtue, an interim is only here temporarily. So is he going to solve all these problems? No, but no interim would be able to do that," Rayson said.
Pacheco addressed the hot topics on Wednesday, including the troubled athletics program.
"I have a very strong attraction to athletics. The expression's been used a lot that it's the front porch to the university, but we have to have an attractive porch. I do start with a bias that it's important to a good university whether we want to accept that or not, it's a fact," Pacheco said at a news conference after Wednesday's meeting.
The majority of Pacheco's speech was lighthearted, but he was very stern when asked about the Doña Ana Community College nursing program that lost its accreditation this year.
"I very quickly, very, very briefly looked at the standards that were not met. They are not standards that are impossible to meet, and so we will be addressing that with the appropriate people at the appropriate time," Pacheco said.
While Pacheco said he is going to work hard as interim president, he does not want to make it permanent.
"I have no desire to be that person. I retired 10 years ago. I liked retiring a lot. I intend to get back to it as soon as I possibly can after the task here is accomplished," Pacheco said.
Chairman of the Board Mike Cheney said he wants to be thorough in the search for a permanent president.
He hopes to have a candidate by the spring semester.