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Francisco Cigarroa Appointed UT System Chancellor

AUSTIN – The University of Texas System Board of Regents today (January 9) named Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., a highly-regarded transplant surgeon and president of the University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio, as chancellor of The University of Texas System.

“Dr. Cigarroa’s impeccable credentials, superior administrative skills and unparalleled passion for medicine and academia make him an outstanding selection to lead our university system,” said Regents’ Chairman H. Scott Caven, Jr. “As president of the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, he has time and again demonstrated great business acumen and unmatched leadership, and it is our belief that Dr. Cigarroa will apply those same traits to continue to guide this system on a successful path, setting new benchmarks for excellence along the way.”

“He is, without doubt, the person most qualified and well suited to lead our 15 institutions to greater national and international prominence. We believe that the UT System and the people of Texas are fortunate to have him in this important position, and I know that all the members of this Board join me in congratulating him,” Caven said.

Cigarroa, 51, will begin his duties as chancellor on Feb. 2. His appointment was made official during a special called board meeting held in Austin. Regents last month named Cigarroa as the sole finalist for the position.
“I am honored and privileged to be taking on this important leadership role for The University of Texas System, which has 15 outstanding institutions and plays such a pivotal role in the intellectual and economic vibrancy of Texas and the everyday lives of its people,” Cigarroa said. “The UT System is a leader in higher education, health care, research and service, and is an immense resource for our state, nation and world. I look forward to working with the Board of Regents, System leadership, presidents, faculty, staff and students in promoting the goals and missions of the institutions, which includes advancing excellence on our campuses and ensuring that our universities continue to be affordable and accessible to students of all backgrounds. The UT System makes lives better every day and gives sustainable hope to our future.” 

A Laredo native, Cigarroa has served as president of the UT Health Science Center – San Antonio since 2000. He becomes the 10th chancellor since the Board of Regents created the position in 1950. 

More than 50 applicants and nominees were considered for the chancellor’s post. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine, the UT System’s executive vice chancellor for health affairs, has been serving as interim chancellor since Mark G. Yudof’s departure last June to serve in a similar role at the University of California system.

“This board also owes its deepest gratitude to Dr. Shine for his outstanding leadership during this time of transition in the system,” Caven said. “His stewardship as executive vice chancellor for health affairs and as interim chancellor has served our system well and has set a fine example for future leaders. We are grateful that he will continue to serve in his role as executive vice chancellor overseeing our outstanding health institutions.” 

A member of the prestigious Institute of Medicine, Cigarroa is a recognized pediatric transplant surgeon and researcher whose articles on the principles of surgery in infants and children have appeared in several scientific publications. During his tenure as president of the health science center, sponsored research expenditures increased from $86.1 million to $146.3 million. 

He joined the health science center faculty in 1995, where prior to his appointment as president he was director of pediatric surgery and director of abdominal transplant surgery. He serves on the medical staffs at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital and University Hospital, among others.

An accomplished fundraiser, Cigarroa was the first Hispanic appointed to lead a major academic health center in the United States, and his appointment as chancellor makes him the first Hispanic to head a major public university system in the country. He announced last October that he would be stepping down as president of the health science center.

Cigarroa is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery. He serves on the boards of several organizations, including the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Cigarroa received a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and his medical degree from UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He was the chief resident at Harvard University’s teaching hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and he completed a fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. 

Cigarroa and his wife, Graciela, an attorney, have two daughters.

The UT System will announce the appointment of an interim president for the UT Health Science Center – San Antonio within the next week. An advisory committee was established last month to begin searching for Cigarroa’s successor at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio. 

The chancellor of the UT System serves as the chief administrative officer of one of the largest public systems of higher education in the nation, overseeing nine universities and six health institutions. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $11.5 billion (FY 2009) including $2.5 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Student enrollment exceeded 194,000 in the 2007 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's healthcare professionals annually. With more than 81,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.