Skip to main content

ASU mourns emeritus professor Jack Pfister


July 22, 2009

Jack Pfister was a native Arizonan, a lawyer, water advocate, teacher and early environmentalist. And the words most often associated with Pfister are “gentleman,” “true leader” and “a good man.”

Pfister, who died July 20 at the age of 75, served as general manager of Salt River Project from 1976 to 1991. Both before and after he retired from SRP, he had a significant role in the development of ASU.

He was a member of the Board of Regents, guided ASU Research Park in its beginning years, taught in the School of Public Affairs, and served as vice president for Institutional Advancement.

Lattie Coor, president of ASU from 1990 to 2002, said, “As a Regent, Jack championed the University's emergence as a major research university and played an active role in the development of the ASU West campus, and the establishment of ASU Polytechnic and the ASU Downtown Center.

“He served as chairman of the board of the ASU Research Park during its critical and very difficult years as it moved from concept to a viable and fully functioning entity. As vice president for Institutional Advancement, he helped bring the University's major capital campaign to a successful conclusion and strengthened our external relations program.”

After serving in the administration, Pfister “completed his formal years of service to the University as an active member of the faculty of the School of Public Affairs, teaching, writing, and collaborating with his colleagues there, as well as serving as the School's representative to the ASU Faculty Senate,” Coor added.

“All the while, he continued to serve on a variety of community and business organizations, bringing a valuable perspective from the University as he did so. ASU has been greatly enriched by Jack Pfister's lifetime of service.”

Arizona Board of Regents President Ernest Calderon said, “With Jack’s death, we have lost a family member and a good friend. He will be greatly missed by all.

“His support for the university system was unwavering. For decades, Jack was there to lend support and provide guidance. As a former Regent, he significantly contributed to the enhancement of our university system, working to make a university education affordable and accessible for all.

“Over the past five years, Jack provided the Board of Regents with informal advice on matters ranging from redesign to affordability and accessibility. This past year, he provided staunch support as we struggled to provide a quality education to our students as we dealt with the budget situation. His post-Regent service to our system is one of the most robust of any former Regent.”

Pfister was born in Prescott in 1933 and graduated from the University of Arizona with degrees in engineering and law. He worked for Jennings, Strauss, and Salmon, a Phoenix law firm that represented SRP, before joining SRP.

During the 1960s, as a lawyer for Jennings, Strauss, and Salmon, he was involved with the fight to obtain authorization for the construction of the Central Arizona Project.

Pfister will be greatly missed by the state of Arizona, and its university system. Calder?n said, “At a later date, I will be asking Arizona State University to take a leadership role in permanently remembering Jack’s legacy of service.”

Services for Jack Pfister will be held at 2 p.m., July 25, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 W. Adams, Phoenix. A reception will follow at the theater.