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Sources: Cigarroa to Step Down as UT Chancellor

photo by: Bob Daemmrich

Francisco Cigarroa, the chancellor of the University of Texas System, will announce Monday that plans to step down to become the head of the pediatric surgery unit at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, three sources tell The Texas Tribune.

Cigarroa's intention to resign his post was first reported late Sunday by the Austin American-Statesman. A Sunday release by the system said Cigarroa and Paul Foster, the chairman of the Board of Regents, will appear together at a Monday morning news conference at which the chancellor will make a "special announcement."

The first Hispanic to lead a major university system in the United States, 56-year-old Cigarroa was appointed in January 2009. His last three years as chancellor have been consumed by controversy over the relationship between the system's Board of Regents and the University of Texas at Austin — and particularly its president, Bill Powers. But he also presided over the creation of a new system institution in South Texas, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and was instrumental in pushing legislative approval of medical schools in Austin and the lower Rio Grande Valley.

Both the Statesman and the Tribune's sources say Cigarroa will remain in his current job until a replacement is found.

The timing of Cigarroa's departure comes at an interesting moment politically in Texas. Gov. Rick Perry, whose appointees to the UT regents have been notably aggressive in their oversight of the chancellor, is in his last year in office. The next governor, presumably Attorney General Greg Abbott or state Sen. Wendy Davis, could inherit a choice made by their predecessor instead of getting an opportunity to put their own mark on the system.