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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Special Issue: July 29, 2002
The Gordon Presidency -
1998 - 2002


Maestas reaches for moon, stars

By Carolyn Gonzales

Ricardo Maestas, Executive Affairs Officer, President's Office.The road from Chamisal, New Mexico, to Albuquerque isn’t very far. It is a long road, however, from the rural back roads of Northern New Mexico to the office held by Ricardo Maestas, President Gordon’s executive affairs officer since 2000. Both roads offer bumps and beauty, chance and change and opportunity on the horizon.

Maestas always loved school, knowing as early as junior high that he wanted to go to college. His father, Max, held blue collar jobs and attended school only through the 5th grade. Bertha, his mother, completed 11th grade. “They valued education, but they didn’t push it,” he says.

He knew that education was the way out of menial jobs. “I worked hard in school, but I was a dreamer – always looking up at the moon, stars and space,” he says.

Dreams would become reality for Maestas. He earned a bachelor’s in Spanish and psychology and followed up with a master’s degree in Spanish, all from UNM.

He worked for 9 ½ years in Illinois, followed by three years at Ohio State where he was the director of Hispanic Affairs. He went on to earn a PhD in higher and postsecondary education at the University of Michigan.

Maestas worked in various capacities at UNM. He knew early on that he wanted to work in central administration and he let Gordon in on his desire.

“I was working on my PhD when I told him I’d like to come back and work as his assistant. Dr. Gordon told me to write it down, submit a letter,” he says.

Everything came together for Maestas in Aug. 2000

As executive affairs officer, Maestas has several areas of responsibility including serving as liaison for the UNM Board of Regents. Additionally, he assesses policy issues.

Maestas responds to correspondence and phone calls received by the president’s office.

Occasionally, he will represent the president at official functions. “President Gordon generally elects to attend himself. He is a hands-on administrator and he has a hard time saying no,” he says.

He also has responsibilities that gave rise to a self-imposed title, “Jack of All Trades.” He handles whatever Gordon delegates to him, addresses faculty issues and worked on the NCAA recertification, and assisted in determining who sat on the committee. He also aids in forming search committees.

“I get a great deal of satisfaction working with Dr. Gordon. I’ve made it my job to make his job easier,” he says.

One of the best perks about working for the president, he says, is getting your phone calls returned. “People get things done for you right away,” he says.

Something he’s learned is to watch what he says. “I may be offering my opinion or view and it will be misconstrued as representing the president,” he says.

Maestas is ready for the challenge of working for a new administration “I think it will be a smooth transition,” he says.

Maestas remains true to his roots. He and wife Annette live in Albuquerque’s South Valley and are making sure their children learn Spanish.

He takes time to visit friends and family up north, in Chamisal, Peñasco, Rodarte, Talpa and Taos. He finds comfort in the familiar northern New Mexico Spanish dialect.

Whether sitting at table with family or the executive cabinet, Maestas is at home.