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Below you can read previously submitted stories about Jack Pfister. Please enjoy! If you would like to submit a story of your own, please click on the link to the right.

A great professor of Public Administration

Written by: Dr. G

Jack Pfister was an amazing professor in the ASU School of Public Administration. His long list of accolades and extensive experience in public service provided the ideal backdrop for the 1990s-era, graduate-level course, entitled "Managing Non-Profits, PAF-591."  Jack was a kind and compassionate person with a strong work ethic. He was committed to education and was a role model for many young men and women studying public administration.  I am fortunate to have had him as a professor, mentor and reference for a doctoral program.  Thank you to the Pfister family and those who shared their stories on this website. Thank you, Jack, for helping to shape Arizona, and many young minds.

Opponents at Distinct Disadvantage

Written by: Larry Crittenden

Jack used to tell us "When you have your opponents at distinct disadvantage, give them a rock to step back on. You might need the same consideration some day." I still quote him when I'm working with expert witnesses. I caution them against trying to embarrass opposing counsel or regulators, even when it's clear that someone doesn't understand the issue or asks an uninformed question.

Historymaker Jack Pfister

Written by: Ruth McLeod

Jack PfisterIt was a privilege to work with Jack Pfister when I was Historymakers Gala chair in 2003 for the Historical League. He was always so open, friendly and willing to help. His biography and formal portrait can be found at www.HistoricalLeague.org/historymakers with his oral history and photos to follow. He deserved many more accolades for his wonderful work for Arizona. Jack is featured in Historymakers Wall at AHS Museum at Papago Park, Tempe.
Interesting that ASU President Lattie Coor presented him the night of the Gala since Lattie Coor will be honored as a Historymaker himself Feb 8, 2014.Attaching his formal portrait for Historymakers Gala and Recognition Program.

Jack Pfister

Written by: Dennis Mitchem

Jack was a mentor and good friend of mine over many years. We first became acquainted when he left his legal practice to join Salt River Project. Representing SRP’s CPA firm, I remember meeting at Jack’s office late in the evening to sign audit reports included in the SRP bond offerings’ circulars. Jack and I worked together as members of the Phoenix 40 throughout its existence under that name. In the 1980’s, Jack recruited me to be the campaign treasurer for the first-ever capital campaign conducted by the Maricopa County Community College’s Foundation.

I remember Jack Pfister

Written by: Joe Finnerty

Beginning in 1970, I reported directly to Jack in his capacity as Director, Operations Services, my title being Manager, Supply Department. For the next eighteen months, I interacted with him on a weekly basis.

Rumor had it that he’d been selected to fill an upper level executive management position in the near future, but he never let on. He worked diligently at the task at hand. During this initial period of his career with SRP, he did not reveal the full scope of his management skills. That happened some years later when, now the Assistant General Manager, Power, he provided his staff with a memorandum outlining his style of management. To this day, the principles he espoused still apply.

One stated, “I insist on complete honesty in the reporting of all matters to me . . . I want all the facts, both good and bad . . . and I mean ‘all.” Another said, “In making decisions or recommendations, my principal concern is what is best for the Project.” A third began, “I like to delegate and I want to delegate . . . but I need to develop systems to permit more delegation.”

He went on to say, “I will make mistakes and I know you will also. I don’t cover up my mistakes and I don’t want you to either. I will judge you more harshly if I find out that you have attempted to cover up a mistake than if we let me know and we jointly try to find a way to correct it.”

And indeed, he did manage to make a small mistake one year when his decision to implement a new business concept called ZERO-BASED BUDGETING backfired. This process required the justification of all prior year’s expenses and positions on the Table of Organization to accompany the request for new funding.

Input budget information flooded Data Processing. After processing this entire minutia, thousands of output documents spewed from their printers which they hand-trucked to Jack’s office for his review and approval. It swamped him. Those of us who hated the new budget process laughed at this turn of events, but not to his face. Idea: great. Implementation: not so much.

Later, Data Processing determined it needed 23 million sheets of continuous-roll paper to support next year’s anticipated usage. To buy this quantity required Board approval. Jack turned to the DP manager to explain the need. He said something to the effect, “Well, we used a lot of sheets last year and need to replenish our supply to keep pace with projected usage. Everyone at SRP, from the top down, is finding more innovative ways to use main-frame computers programs these days.”

You can well imagine that Jack had no problem in future years endorsing the purchase of workplace desktop personal computers. They used far less paper. Jack knew how to go with the flow.


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Jack Pfister