AUSTIN -- Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, chancellor of the University of Texas System, has announced he will step down to become the head of pediatric transplant surgery at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio.
Dr. Cigarroa, 56, worked for UT for five years. He became the school's first Hispanic chancellor in 2008. Previously he was the president of the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio.
At a news conference Monday, Dr. Cigarroa said he had always planned to return to medicine when the San Antonio job came up.
"When initially approached by regents to consider the chancellorship more than five years ago, I was inclined to say no, but I considered the similarities between health and education,” Cigarroa said. “Like surgery, education saves lives on many levels, and I thought I could bring value to the UT System with that perspective in mind.”
“Professionally my plan was to eventually go back to being a full-time transplant surgeon, and I knew there would be a natural time to do so. That time is now,” he added. “The longer I wait to go back full time, the harder it will be to retool.”
During his time at UT, Dr. Cigarroa played a big role in establishing a UT campus and medical school in the Rio Grande Valley. He also had a hand in creating the new medical school coming to Austin.
“I do not know any leader who has accomplished so much so quickly or been as effective as Chancellor Cigarroa, navigating a complex university system during a time of significant discussion on higher education nationally,” UT System Board of Regents Chairman Paul Foster said.
There has been no word on who will replace Dr. Cigarroa. He has agreed to stay on until the board finds a replacement. Previous searches have taken anywhere from four to six months.