Randy Pacheco will leave School of Energy

James Fenton
Randy Pacheco, dean of the San Juan College School of Energy, speaks during an interview Friday at his office in the school in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Randy Pacheco is stepping down as dean of San Juan College's School of Energy.

Pacheco's last day at the college will be Dec. 31. He begins his new role as general manager at A-Plus Well Service on Jan. 2.

Pacheco, 46, started working at the college in 2003, and said the decision to take the new job was based on his respect for A-Plus President Bill Clark. As Clark makes preparations to retire, Pacheco said, he wants to give the independent service company's 55 employees stakes in ownership in the company.

One of Pacheco's roles as A-Plus' new general manager will be to help navigate the business through that transition.

"What attracts me more than just saying that I'll be a shareholder in this, is that Bill just doesn't simply close his business down or sell it," Pacheco said. "He is saying, 'Thank you for your hard work, and, in return, you get to own a piece of A-Plus.' And who does that in life? I'm more attracted by helping Bill do that for his employees and for other people in the community. If A-Plus can grow, those jobs that Bill will add to the community, they're not just jobs. If someone comes to work for A-Plus, they're going to part owner in it. That's a remarkable thing to do."

Pacheco also expects that the number of employees at A-Plus will triple over the next decade.

In an interview in his corner office at the new School of Energy, Pacheco said he was proud of establishing a premier school in energy education with collaboration between the industry and educators.

"The vision was never really a building. The vision was always to provide state-of-the-art education for energy and energy development in the U.S.," Pacheco said of the 12-year process of establishing the new school. "As we started to grow this, we clearly saw the need for the building. But the vision will always be and needs to be about the students — helping them get jobs, stay connected to the industry. That's critical. That's crucial. That's our bread and butter."

With many area oil and gas officials crying foul over proposed federal oil and gas regulations they say would jeopardize the economic viability of depleted low-producing wells, Pacheco said A-Plus' business might certainly pick up.

A-Plus' primary work — plugging and abandoning wells — might be seen as a strategic move, but Pacheco said his choice to leave his dean's chair is an opportunity to "do something unique, something special, for the people in the industry and the community."

"Do I know (federal regulations might indirectly impact A-Plus' core business)? Yes, I did see that coming," Pacheco said. "It makes a tremendous amount of sense. It factors in. I'm hoping that (those regulations) don't (become law). I don't want to see businesses fold in the San Juan Basin, but, if they do, I want to it to be with this company to do the work."

College President Toni Pendergrass said in a statement that she was grateful for Pacheco's service to the college and the community.

"Randy has been a tremendous asset to San Juan College, and his dream for the School of Energy to help students and to serve the industry on both a local and global basis has been realized,” Pendergrass said. “ I can't thank him enough for all that he has done for San Juan College and this community."

Pacheco will continue to serve as CEO of Four Corners Innovations Inc., the college's research park.

"We will certainly miss him, and we wish him all the best in his new position," Pendergrass said. "We are extremely fortunate that he will remain in an active role as the CEO of (FCI) ... so he will still have an active presence on campus and in the community."

Former college president and FCI board chairman James Henderson praised Pacheco for his leadership in establishing the college's $15.8 million new school.

"Randy, I've known him a long time, and he's done a tremendous job to bring (the School of Energy) online," Henderson said. "He did a great jobs there. It's probably one of those things. He's completed some things he wanted to do and has other things in mind."

Randy Pacheco, dean of the San Juan College School of Energy, poses for a portrait on Friday at the school in Farmington.

The college will look for Pacheco's replacement starting next month, according to college spokeswoman Rhonda Schaefer.

"We will go through the normal processes of posting the position and conducting a search at the start of next year," Schaefer said.

Pacheco said he will remain actively involved in the for-profit side of the college and is proud of his work there.

"Along the way, this place will always be near and dear to my heart, and I will still be around to help," Pacheco said. "I am always going to fly the San Juan College flag forever. And I may be back. You never know what the future will hold."

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and jfenton@daily-times.com.