Francisco Cigarroa, president of the UT Health Science Center, has been named the sole finalist for chancellor of the University of Texas System, the state’s largest and most prestigious network of colleges.
The UT Board of Regents unanimously approved the choice after meeting for several hours in a closed, executive session. The only other candidate for the job was AT&T executive John Montford, a former state senator from Lubbock and former chancellor of the Texas Tech University System from 1996 to 2001.
“We are extremely pleased Dr. Cigarroa has agreed to be considered for the position of UT system chancellor,” said UT Regent Chairman H. Scott Caven. “The UT System is a national leader in higher education and health care, therefore the selection of a chancellor is one of the most important decisions this governing board will make.”
Caven called Cigarroa an “accomplished administrator, scientist and faculty member” with the experience required to oversee the sprawling UT system.
UT Regent Robert Rolling said earlier Thursday evening that the board had interviewed “two extremely well-qualified, charming candidates.” State law requires that the regents name any finalists at least 21 days before selecting a chancellor. As the only candidate, Cigarroa is all but assured the job.
A transplant surgeon and native of Laredo, Cigarroa has headed the health science center in San Antonio for the past eight years. He already had announced plans to step down next year to return to the operating room. He’s the institution’s third president and the first Hispanic to lead a health science center in the United States.
The chancellor acts as the chief executive officer of the UT System, which has nine universities and six health institutions.
Student enrollment at the system’s 15 campuses exceeds 194,000. With an annual operating budget of more than $11 billion and some 81,000 employees, the UT System is also one of the largest employers in Texas.
Mark Yudof left the chancellor job in June to head up the University of California system. Regents have not announced what the new chancellor’s salary will be. Interim Chancellor Kenneth Shine receives annual compensation of $700,000.
Regents were scheduled to continue meeting later Thursday and Friday at a resort outside Austin. The $15,000 retreat drew fire as lavish and wasteful from an association that represents some of the 3,800 people losing their jobs at the UT Medical Branch in Galveston, officials said.
But UT officials said the “Presidents’ Retreat” at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort near Bastrop was scheduled months ago and will be paid from interest on privately donated money.
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