UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, who has served in the position since 2009, will resign at a specially called press conference Monday.
Cigarroa will stay in his current role until a replacement is found, after which he will become head of the pediatric transplant team at the UT-Health Science Center at San Antonio.
In an email he sent to UT System employees late Sunday evening, Cigarroa explained his decision to step down and said he was ready to take the new opportunity, which was initially offered to him in late 2013.
“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,” Cigarroa said in the email. “The time has come for me to return to my lifelong love and passion — saving lives one individual at a time.”
Cigarroa said he felt proud of the goals the System has achieved during his tenure as chancellor over the course of the last four years.
“[The position] 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,” he said. “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.”
Cigarroa has been a key figure in ongoing tensions between President William Powers Jr. and members of the regents over the course of the last several years. At the board’s December meeting, where the board discussed Powers’ employment, Cigarroa recommended Powers remain president but also issued a strong warning to Powers to “improve relationships” with the UT System.
Cigarroa said Powers had made public statements misrepresenting the relationship between the University and the System even in times when there was no conflict.
“The main reason for the strain is that [Powers] and I would agree on certain principles, and then I would act on those principles, but then [Powers] would often convey a message of misalignment,” Cigarroa said at the meeting.
After the decision, Powers said he was thankful for Cigarroa’s continued support.
According to Cigarroa, his decision to step down is largely based on his feelings for his communities, the UT System and his own family.
“My new position will allow me to remain in the U. T. System family, an environment to which I am dedicated and committed,” Cigarroa said. “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.”
Cigarroa will be returning to where he began his career at the UT System, as he served as director of pediatric surgery at UTHSC-San Antonio from 1995-2000 and served as president from 2000-2009. In 2009, he was named chancellor of the System by the Board of Regents.
Two years ago, Cigarroa told The Daily Texan he originally planned to return to practicing surgery full-time after his tenure as president expired but changed his mind when the chancellor position opened up. Cigarroa has four other siblings who practice medicine.
“You will never separate the love for medicine from a Cigarroa,” Cigarroa said in 2012. “It’s in our genome.”
Cigarroa will make his announcement at 11 a.m. at Ashbel Smith Hall.