Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Saving Lives in the Academy and Operating Room: First Hispanic University of Texas System Chancellor Tackles Financial Problems and Challenges Top 10 Admission Rule, While Still Performing Surgeries

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Saving Lives in the Academy and Operating Room: First Hispanic University of Texas System Chancellor Tackles Financial Problems and Challenges Top 10 Admission Rule, While Still Performing Surgeries

Article excerpt

Last fall, after eight years as president of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Dr. Francisco Cigarroa announced plans to resign and devote himself more to pediatric transplant surgery.

The UT System Board of Regents had other plans.

"Little did I know that the search committee for the chancellorship role really wanted to interview me" Cigarroa said, soon after taking helm of the UT system Feb. 2--and its 15 institutions and $11.5 billion budget.

"What inspired me to postpone going back into surgery is that this is certainly a higher calling for public service. In your role as chancellor, if you can enhance education across this great state of Texas, then you are still in the position of saving lives, because education-in my opinion--saves lives. Through improved literacy. Through prevention. Through inspiring students to pursue science which leads to new discoveries"

Cigarroa earned a bachelor's in biology from Yale University and a medical degree from the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

During postgraduate work at Massachusetts General and Johns Hopkins hospitals, he found his calling: pediatric surgery.

The UT Health Science Center in San Antonio recruited him to rebuild its children's surgery and transplant programs. He became its president in 2000.

He was the first Hispanic to hold the job. He is also the first Hispanic to preside over the sprawling UT system.

Texas State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, chair of the Higher Education Committee and a longtime Cigarroa family friend who nominated him for the chancellorship, says she did so because of his success as president of the UT Health Science Center.

"He's been a faculty member, an administrator, a researcher--which makes him well-rounded for the job" Zaffirini, who is the highest-ranking Hispanic in the Texas State Senate, tells Diverse. …

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