In Memoriam: Harry Pachon

In Memoriam: Harry Pachon

By Merrill Balassone

Harry Pachon Professor Harry Pachon

Harry Pachon, professor of public policy at USC and president of the nation’s oldest and most recognized think tank on Latino issues, died Nov. 4 following an extended illness. He was 66.

“USC is saddened by the loss of professor Harry Pachon, an inspiring teacher, researcher and humanitarian who served both our university and our community at large,” said USC provost and vice president for academic affairs Elizabeth Garrett. “His pioneering and celebrated career as a scholar of Latino culture and politics has heightened our understanding of the issues and challenges facing the Latino community, and he translated this work to society by encouraging local activism and advancement through education. Professor Pachon’s dedication and character has left a lasting impact on the world.”

Jack H. Knott, C. Erwin and Ione L. Piper Dean at the USC Price School of Public Policy, praised Pachon’s impact on the national stage but also highlighted his work in the classroom as “an effective and well-liked teacher who inspired his students.”

Knott added: “Harry was a kind and generous person and a wonderful and beloved friend and colleague to many at USC and in the broader Latino community. His legacy of extraordinary contributions to Latino politics and policy at a crucial period in the development of the Latino community in America will be remembered always.”

In 1993, Pachon became president of the nationally renowned Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, which moved from Claremont Graduate University to USC when Pachon joined the USC faculty in 2003.

“Under his leadership, the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute grew into a civic research organization with national visibility and impact, making major contributions in the areas of immigration, education policy, and Latino politics and policy,” Knott said.

On Nov. 7, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hailed Pachon as “a brilliant scholar and trailblazer.”

Villaraigosa added: “As a founder of the National Association of Latino Elected [and Appointed] Officials, Harry worked unceasingly for the civic engagement and the political empowerment of Latinos in the United States. And as president of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute and professor, he contributed immensely to the research on Latinos and the policy issues of greatest impact to this community. Although we will miss him dearly, he leaves a legacy of outstanding scholarship and of advancing the participation of Latinos in the democratic process.”

Pachon was a founding board member and executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund from 1983 to 1993.

He testified several times before congressional committees and was appointed to serve as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans in 1997.

The same year, Pachon was the recipient of the Ohtli Award from the Mexican government for his service on behalf of the Mexican immigrant community.

Over the course of his career, Pachon authored four books and more than 30 journal articles and book chapters on Latino social capital, educational opportunities, civic and political engagement, electoral behavior and racial justice.

He was the principal investigator for millions of dollars in externally funded research grants and contracts, including an evaluation of health insurance coverage programs for California children and a program promoting employment of minority and low-income workers in construction projects for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Pachon also served on the boards of several local organizations, including the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, Southern California Public Radio and KPPC.

He previously held the Kenan All Campus Chair at the Claremont Colleges, as well as academic positions at Michigan State University, Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and City University of New York.

Pachon earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science at California State University, Los Angeles. He earned his Ph.D. in government from the Claremont Graduate School and was awarded postdoctoral fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.

Donations can be made in Pachon’s honor to the USC Harry P. Pachon Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will provide scholarships for students at the USC Price School. Donations can be sent to associate dean Regina Nordhal at the following address:

University of Southern California
University Park Campus
RGL 312
M/C 0626
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626