Waco, Texas (KWKT) — Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., the chancellor of The University of Texas System for the past five years announced, Monday, he would be stepping down to head back into the medical field.
In a press conference, Dr. Cigarroa said he will now hold the position of the head of Pediatric Transplant Surgery at UT Health Science Center in San Antonio.
He sent the following e-mail out to UT system employees explaining his difficult, but necessary decision:
When I began my journey as chancellor of The University of Texas System in February 2009, I knew the day would come when I would return to transplant surgery. Having spent the past 14 years in administration for the U. T. System, first as president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC-SA) and now as chancellor, the time has come for me to return to my lifelong love and passion -- saving lives one individual at a time.
Upon the Board of Regents’ appointment of my successor, I will return to UTHSC-SA as head of Pediatric Transplant Surgery. This position, offered to me in late 2013, presents an opportunity for me to do what I trained so many years to do, and I view it as an important calling at an ideal time. Thanks to your extraordinary work, many of the U. T. System goals we developed together are now in the implementation stage and in excellent hands. I can leave the U. T. System Administration with the highest degree of confidence, knowing that together we have successfully achieved what we set out to do.
My decision was not made lightly, but I was comforted by two factors, both tied to family. My new position will allow me to remain in the U. T. System family, an environment to which I am dedicated and committed. Additionally, I will be able to convey gratitude and respect to my parents for the sacrifices they made for my siblings and me to spend considerable years in school to train as physicians. My father continues to practice medicine daily at age 89, and three of my brothers are physicians. It is time to honor what my parents did for me by returning to my father’s and my first love, the practice of medicine.
Serving as chancellor of the U. T. System and working with you will always be the high point in my life as an administrator. I marvel at the leadership, spirit, devotion, creativity and professionalism demonstrated by the System Administration staff and across our campuses. You have given me a great gift in supporting me and enabling me to lead the U. T. System, and I will forever be grateful to each one of you.
Chairman Foster has advised me that the Board of Regents will begin a search for a new chancellor in the coming weeks, and until my successor is named, I will continue to serve to the best of my abilities.
This marks a bittersweet time for me. While I look forward to being back in the operating room, I will no longer have the privilege of interacting with you daily. In the months ahead, I hope to have the opportunity to express my gratitude to many of you personally and to let you know how much I have enjoyed working with you.
Chairman Foster will join me tomorrow morning as I share my news with the media.
With greatest respect,
Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.
Dr. Cigarroa was born on December 1, 1957, in Laredo, Texas. One of ten children, Dr. Cigarroa is a third generation physician. After graduating from J. W. Nixon High School in Laredo, he attended Yale University, where he graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Dr. Cigarroa earned his medical degree in 1983 from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. During his postgraduate training, he became chief resident in General Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and completed fellowships in Pediatric Surgery and Transplantation Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. In 2011, Dr. Cigarroa was awarded the Massachusetts General Hospital Trustees’ Medal in recognition of his contributions to the advancement of the practice of medicine and patient care.
Dr. Cigarroa joined the faculty of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1995, where he served as director of pediatric surgery before serving as president of the institution from 2000 - 2009. In 2003, President George W. Bush appointed him to serve on the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science.
Dr. Cigarroa  is a member of several prestigious societies, including the American College of Surgery, the Institute of Medicine, the American Board of Surgery and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also an honorary member of the National Academy of Science in Mexico. He was elected to serve as an Alumni Fellow to the Yale Corporation, the university’s governing board. He also served as the 2010 president of the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. In 2009, Dr. Cigarroa became the first Hispanic to be named chancellor of The University of Texas System. As chancellor, he oversees one of the largest public systems of higher education in the nation, which consists of nine universities and six health institutions. He is also vice chairman for policy on the Board of Directors of The University of Texas Investment Management Company.
Currently, he serves on the National Research Council Committee on Research Universities and on the American Academy Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition, President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Cigarroa to serve as a commissioner on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.
Dr. Cigarroa is a nationally renowned transplant surgeon and continues to perform liver and kidney transplant surgeries.
Dr. Cigarroa and his wife, Graciela, an attorney, have two daughters, Maria Cristina and Barbara Carisa.