AUSTIN, Texas ― University of Texas System regents were scheduled to meet Tuesday night to possibly name a finalist in their search for a new chancellor to oversee the 15-campus system.
If the regents name a finalist, the candidate must wait 21 days before being officially confirmed for the job.
With nine academic and six health campuses, the Texas system has more than 215,000 students, about 90,000 employees and a $14 billion budget. The chancellor’s duties include representing the system in legislative matters, advocating higher education causes and raising money.
Current Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa is leaving after five years to return to work full time as a pediatric transplant surgeon at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, where he was president for eight years before being named chancellor.
Cigarroa, who was the first Hispanic to be University of Texas System chancellor, announced his departure in February.
Cigarroa’s tenure was notable for the creation of the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, a merger of the campuses in Brownsville and Edinburg, which will include a medical school, and a new medical school at the University of Texas at Austin.
It was also marked by tension between him and Austin flagship campus President Bill Powers, who also clashed with several regents. Powers recently agreed to step down in June 2015.
Cigarroa’s clashes with Powers and the turmoil between the regents and lawmakers have created a volatile atmosphere for a new chancellor, who will have to walk a delicate line between his bosses on the Board of Regents and state lawmakers.
Prominent alumni and donors had rallied behind Powers, who also enjoyed considerable support in the Legislature, which sets public university budgets. At a recent hearing before a state House panel, regents Chairman Paul Foster said he considered it “offensive” for lawmakers to try to directly influence personnel decisions such as the hiring and firing of campus presidents.