Francisco Cigarroa

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Francisco Cigarroa
Francisco Cigarroa Nima1.JPG
University of Texas System
In office
Base salary$750,000[1]
High schoolJ.W. Nixon High School
Bachelor'sYale University
M.D.University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
BirthdayDecember 1, 1957
Place of birthLaredo, Texas
Office website
Francisco Cigarroa is a doctor and current chancellor of the University of Texas System. Cigarroa took office in 2009, the first Hispanic to be named chancellor of the University of Texas System.[2][3]

On February 10, 2014, Cigarroa announced he would resign from his position as Chancellor. He said he felt he had accomplished the goals he set out to do five years earlier, and was prepared to return to medical practice full-time. "Education saves lives on many levels and I thought I could bring value to the UT system with that perspective in mind. Now it’s time to return to saving one life at a time," he said.[4] Cigarroa will continue to serve as chancellor until a replacement is found.[5][6] Cigarroa's new position will be as head of pediatric surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.[7]


Cigarroa was born on December 1, 1957 in Laredo, Texas. He graduated from J.W. Nixon High School before earning a B.A. in biology from Yale University in 1979. Cigarroa immediately attended medical school, earning his M.D. in 1983 from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He did his residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and followed that with a fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital, specializing in Pediatric Surgery and Transplantation Surgery.

In 1995, Cigarroa joined the faculty at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where he was the director of pediatric surgery. Additionally, he served as president of the institution from 2000-2009.[8]



In August 2011, Cigarroa introduced a reform plan he called A Framework for Advancing Excellence.[9] Twice Cigarroa has presented about his plan at the White House. "Without the chancellor, we might well have not been able to make any progress," said University Regent Robert Stillwell.[10] The goal of the plan is to improve accountability, outcomes and efficiency within the system."[11] The plan has received support and praise from multiple sides of the education reform debate in Texas, including Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education.[12]


On February 10, 2014, Cigarroa announced he would resign from his position as Chancellor. He said he felt he had accomplished the goals he set out to do five years earlier, and was prepared to return to medical practice full-time. "Education saves lives on many levels and I thought I could bring value to the UT system with that perspective in mind. Now it’s time to return to saving one life at a time," he said.[13] Cigarroa said his resignation had nothing to do with the turmoil and investigations within the University of Texas system. Cigarroa will continue to serve as chancellor until a replacement is found.[14][15] Cigarroa's new position will be as head of pediatric surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.[16]

Relationship between Cigarroa and Powers

The Dallas Morning News obtained an email in March 2013 related to Cigarroa's resignation. According to the newspaper, Wallace Hall sent a number of emails to Cigarroa in the weeks before his resignation. The email the newspaper obtained via open records request was sent from Regent chair Foster to Cigarroa. In the email, Foster defended Cigarroa for his work while also praising Hall for his "tenacity as a regent and recommendations to better the university." Foster then implied that Hall had pressured Cigarroa to act, which Foster said he did not agree with.[17] State representative Lyle Larson (R) renewed his call for Hall to resign and Trey Martinez Fischer (D) requested that the committee re-open investigations. Committee co-chair Dan Flynn (R) said no further hearings were planned at the time.[18]

An April 22, 2014 article in the Austin American-Statesman detailed an email exchange between Hall and Foster, in which Hall alleged that University of Texas President Bill Powers threatened Cigarroa prior to his resignation. The three-page email was written on March 19, 2014 as a response to the prior email that Foster sent.[19] In the email, Hall makes an array of accusations regarding the impeachment trial and events within the university system.[20]

  • Cigarroa first expressed concern to the Board of Regents about an "inability to work with President Powers" in 2010, which was one year prior to Hall's appointment.
  • According to Hall, Cigarroa asked President Powers to resign in Fall 2013. Powers then reportedly offered a range of requirements to retire, which Hall said were "understandably" refused by Chairman Foster.
  • Hall alleged that Powers "leveled a threat against the Chancellor," which compromised his ability to work. This threat was reportedly made in front of Pedro Reyes, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas System.
  • Regent Steven Hicks reportedly requested an "up or down vote" on Powers. Hall wrote that Foster has not allowed this vote to occur.

Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan pointed to the email as indication of a cover-up at the university, intended to deter an investigation into alleged clout scandals within the higher education system. Quinn Sullivan wrote: "it appears some legislators have been conspiring with UT Austin officials to get unqualified students admission to the state’s flagship university."[21] A spokesman for Powers did not comment on the email.

Request for Powers to resign

In July 2014, Cigarroa asked University of Texas, Austin President Bill Powers to resign or face termination at the July 10 University of Texas Board of Regents meeting. Cigarroa attributed the request to a "breakdown of communication, collegiality, trust and a willingness to work together for the good of the university." Powers at first indicated he would not resign, saying it would "cast the university and our state in a highly unfavorable light."[22][23] However, on July 9, 2014, Cigarroa released a statement that Powers agreed to resign effective June 2015.[24] The Board meeting agenda indicates regents will discuss Powers in an executive session.[25][26] Some legislators on the transparency committee sent a letter requesting that the Board of Regents delay any personnel decisions regarding Powers or other witnesses from the impeachment hearings.[27]

December 2013 Regents meeting

A December 12, 2013 Regents Board meeting listed as an agenda item the "discussion and appropriate action related to recommendation by Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Chancellor concerning employment of William C. Powers, Jr., as President of the University of Texas at Austin."[28] State legislators previously instructed the board not to make personnel decisions related to anyone currently involved in legislative investigations -- including Powers.[29] Speculation was that the future of Powers would impact whether Texas Longhorns football coach Mack Brown would be retained.[30] It was listed as a closed-door meeting.[31] Because of the posting of the agenda, regents could take action following the closed-door session. "I do not know if there was a specific purpose in mind for the agenda item. I’m sure it was discussed between the chancellor and the chairman," said Regent Alex Cranberg. State Senator Judith Zaffirini said she hoped the board would vote in favor of keeping Powers as University President.[32]

Cigarroa detailed how in August 2013, he had explained to the Board of Regents the growing strain in his relationship with Powers.[33]

The main reason for the strain is that Bill and I would agree upon certain principles and then I would act on those principles, but then Bill Powers would often convey a message of misalignment, leading to conflict between U. T. System Administration and The University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, conversations with President Powers were frequently difficult, seeming like an ongoing negotiation," Cigarroa said.[33][34]

Forgivable loans investigation

Seal of Texas.svg.png

University of Texas Investigations

Wallace Hall impeachment trialPolitical favoritism in admissions to the University of TexasForgivable loans program at the University of Texas Law School House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations (TSAO)Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Ed Governance, Excellence & Transparency

UT Regents
Wallace HallPaul FosterEugene PowellSteven HicksErnest AlisedaJeffery HildebrandBrenda PejovichAlex CranbergRobert Stillwell

Elected Officials
Rick PerryJoe StrausCharles PerryTrey FischerDan FlynnNaomi GonzalezEric JohnsonLyle LarsonCarol AlvaradoFour PriceJim PittsDan Branch

UT Individuals
Bill PowersLarry SagerBarry BurgdorfKevin HegartyFrancisco CigarroaCarol Longoria
See also: Forgivable loans program at the University of Texas Law School

On December 8, 2011, University of Texas, Austin Law School Dean Larry Sager resigned from his position. Bill Powers, University of Texas, Austin, President, demanded Sager's resignation regarding a forgivable loan scandal.[35] The primary issue was the law school's salary stipends and "forgivable loans" that were meant as incentives to recruit and keep faculty. "The fact of the matter is, and there's no two ways about this fact, that I resigned now because I was asked to by the president of the university," Sager said.[36]

A total of 22 professors, including Sager, received six-figure forgivable loans or other payments. At the time of Sager's resignation, 19 members of the law school faculty were paid more than $300,000 per year. From 2006-2011, the University of Texas Law School Foundation -- an entity that is legally separate from the law school -- gave out more than $4.6 million in forgivable loans. Sager himself received a $500,000 loan from the foundation.[37][38]

Former University of Texas General Counsel Barry Burgdorf issued a report in November 2012 after investigating the forgivable loans program. In that report, University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall called the report "insufficient" and said that it did not provide the full story.[39] In a July 2013 letter to State Representative Jim Pitts, University of Texas Regent Eugene Powell detailed a previously unrevealed letter regarding the forgivable loans program that was not included in Burgdorf's report. The letter, which was addressed to University of Texas Chancellor Cigarroa, was written by several female faculty members of the law school requesting an investigation into "two hidden salary systems that our dean has used during the last five years to hide salary raises and to discriminate against women and minorities in our institution." The letter was reportedly forwarded to Burgdorf.[40][41]

Wallace Hall impeachment

See also: Wallace Hall impeachment trial

After he was appointed in 2011, University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall began looking into what he believed to be clout scandals within the University of Texas system. Hall investigated the university's forgivable-loans program, admissions policies and preferential treatment to politically-connected individuals.[42] Hall, as an individual citizen, filed a large number of FOIA requests with the University system after his inquiries via his role as a Regent were rebuffed.[43] According to his accusers, Hall filed requests of more than 800,000 pages, which some Texas administrators called an unnecessary burden.[44][45] However, a letter from University chancellor Cigarroa in February 2014 said that Hall likely requested fewer than 100,000 pages.[46][47] In addition, Cigarroa wrote: "During testimony before the Select Committee, some early witnesses implied that the U.T. System has not protected the privacy rights of students, staff, and patients. This is simply not true."[48]

An effort was begun in June 2013 to try to impeach Hall from his position as Regent. Some legislators are justifying the impeachment on the grounds that Hall did not disclose several lawsuits that he was involved in when he originally completed his Regent background check. Hall updated Governor Rick Perry's office in April 2013 with the full list.[49][50] No unelected official in Texas has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office.[51] Governor of Texas Rick Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees.[52] He added that the investigation was "extraordinary political theater."[53]

In July 2013, Cigarroa and Regent Eugene Powell responded to the ongoing investigation and negative remarks against Hall from some elected officials and University of Texas staff. Cigarroa said Hall was not allowed to access anything that was not reviewed by University lawyers to ensure they met federal privacy standards. In a July 15, 2013 letter to state representative Jim Pitts, Powell wrote: "Regent Hall's efforts extend to bringing the U.T. System into a competitive position nationally; especially related to offering blended and online learning opportunities to U.T. students. I would point out Regent Hall's excellent service to the Board in terms of time and energy. I appreciate his Board service and his dedication and hard work designed to fulfill his fiduciary obligations.[54][55]

In November 2013 it was revealed that one of the letters Hall subpoenaed was sent by Judith Zaffirini to Cigarroa. According to a public records request filed by, the letter was sent on December 3, 2010 to Cigarroa on behalf of an applicant to the University of Texas School of Law. In his response, Cigarroa wrote, "I will convey your strong recommendation to President Bill Powers. I can assure you that he will receive careful consideration." The standard process is to send letters recommending applicants to the Law School Admissions Council.[56]

At a November 12, 2013 meeting the committee issued subpoenas for Dan Sharphorn, University of Texas Vice Chancellor and General Counsel; Francie Frederick, General Counsel to the University of Texas System Board of Regents; Barbara Holthaus, System Senior Attorney; and Hall, who was expected to testify at the December 10, 2013 meeting.[57][58] However, only minutes after initially filing the subpoena for Hall, committee members suddenly recalled it. Carol Alvarado said the members acted too quickly without checking their schedule. The subpoena was issued for December 10, but no meeting was scheduled until December 18.[59]

During testimony, Frederick said Hall may have been in possession of protected student information. "We failed by allowing this to happen," she said. During the meeting, committee member Trey Fischer asked whether possession of the document was a criminal violation. Sharphorn also testified at the meeting. Legislators also voted to issue subpoenas to Cigarroa and Bill Powers to appear at the December 18, 2013 meeting.[60][61][62]


At the December 18, 2013 meeting, Cigarroa appeared and testified via subpoena.

Additionally Bill Powers and two former regents testified -- H. Scott Caven Jr. and John Barnhill. Cigarroa was questioned for more than 3 hours. Committee counsel Rusty Hardin discussed new evidence that had not previously been revealed. He said that earlier in the year, Hall had inquired about seizing some computers from the University of Texas Law School. Cigarroa confirmed the account, but said that the inquiry had not been executed.[63][64]

Despite not providing Hall with a subpoena, committee legislators called it a "slap in the face" that Hall did not testify. While nearly all individuals who testified were given an official subpoena, Hall himself was not granted one. In fact, it was more directly avoided by the committee, after it first sent him a subpoena only to withdraw it.[65][66] Committee co-chairs Carol Alvarado and Dan Flynn (R) released a joint statement: "Our invitation to Regent Hall still stands. We are eager to hear from him, and are prepared to accommodate his testimony."[67] Flynn said he hoped to wrap up the process by the end of the year and that the committee would move forward regardless of whether Hall testifies.[68][69]

Some of the commentary during testimony from the four witnesses:[70]

  • Powers: Said that the controversy surrounding his employment was a large distraction. He said it hurt the university's ability to recruit faculty and staff.[70] Powers added that the situation did "significant harm to our reputation in the academic world nationally and internationally."[71] Powers estimated that the records requests cost the university more than $1 million.[72]
  • Cigarroa: Said that there has been a bit of a distraction over the past year because of voluminous requests on one campus. He admitted that Hall had approached him about the controversy surrounding law professor salaries and admission policies.[70] He said that Hall had never approached him about firing Powers.[73] He added that Hall has the right to ask questions, with the University then responding as best it can.[74] Additionally, he announced that the University of Texas System would be conducting a formal inquiry into admissions favoritism at the University of Texas, Austin. Specifically, the Chancellor's office would examine the qualifications of 70 undergraduate applicants and 16 law school students who were previously recommended by lawmakers. "I’ve got concerns that there are external influences involved in the admissions of students. I’m looking at a cohort of students. I’m looking at the process," he said.[75]
  • Caven: Said that it was inappropriate for an individual regent to act on his or her own accord without first sharing the mission of his or her actions with the rest of the board.[70]
  • Barnhill: Agreed with Caven and said regents should function as a board moving in a single direction.[70]

The committee canceled the December 19 meeting. The next item on the agenda will be a summary of options from counsel, Rusty Hardin, based on the information and testimony gathered. Hardin's report will be compiled over the next several weeks and then presented to the committee for review. The report could recommend impeachment, which would then require convening the full house.[76]


Cigarroa is married to Graciela. They have two daughters.[2]

See also

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  1. Texas Tribune, "Francisco Cigarroa Salary," accessed November 6, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 University of Texas, "Francisco Cigarroa Biography," accessed November 10, 2013
  3. New York Daily News, "Texan becomes 1st Hispanic to lead school system," February 2, 2009
  4. KXAN "UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa resigning," February 10, 2014
  5. Texas Tribune, "Cigarroa: Political Upheaval Did Not Prompt Resignation," February 10, 2014
  6. Idaho Statesman, "UT chancellor Cigarroa says he'll resign" February 10, 2014
  7. Dallas Morning News, "UT chancellor Cigarroa to resign, return to medical practice," February 10, 2014
  8. Yale University, "Francisco G. Cigarroa," accessed November 10, 2013
  9. University of Texas System, "A Framework for Advancing Excellence," accessed November 10, 2013
  10. New York Times, "Despite Friction, University Chancellor Sees His Plan Succeeding," April 18, 2013
  11. Chronicles for Higher Education, "What's a Good Job Worth?," August 23, 2012
  12. Chronicle of Higher Education, "Texas-Size Compromise," August 26, 2011
  13. KXAN, "UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa resigning," February 10, 2014
  14. Texas Tribune, "Cigarroa: Political Upheaval Did Not Prompt Resignation," February 10, 2014
  15. Idaho Statesman, "UT chancellor Cigarroa says he'll resign" February 10, 2014
  16. Dallas Morning News, "UT chancellor Cigarroa to resign, return to medical practice," February 10, 2014
  17. Dallas Morning News, "UT regent’s email hints chancellor was under attack before resignation," March 13, 2014
  18. Texas Tribune, "Two Lawmakers Renew Calls for Action Against Hall," March 14, 2014
  19. Austin American-Statesman, "UT regent’s email points to deepening rancor on board," April 22, 2014
  20. Empower Texans, "Email from Wallace Hall to Paul Foster," March 19, 2014
  21. Empower Texans, "UT Cover-Up?" April 23, 2014
  22. Wall Street Journal, " University of Texas Board Asks President to Resign," July 8, 2014
  23. Texas Tribune, "Cigarroa Tells Powers to Resign or Be Fired," July 4, 2014
  24. Watchdog, "UT President Bill Powers to resign -- in 2015," July 9, 2014
  25. University of Texas System, "Schedule of Events for Board of Regents' Meeting on July 10, 2014"
  26. Watchdog, "Board to decide UT president’s fate Thursday," July 7, 2014
  27. Texas Public Radio, "House Committee Wants UT Regents To Hold Off On Any Action Against Pres. Bill Powers," July 8, 2014
  28. University of Texas System Board of Regents, "December 12, 2013 Meeting Agenda
  29. Texas Tribune, "UT Regents to Discuss Employment of Bill Powers," December 9, 2013
  30. ESPN "Mack Brown's future in limbo," December 10, 2013
  31. Dallas Morning News, "Could Mack Brown lose an ally? Texas' Bill Powers to be reviewed by regents," December 9, 2013
  32. Austin American Statesman, "University of Texas regents to discuss Powers’ job status," December 9, 2013
  33. 33.0 33.1 University of Texas System, "Board of Regents Meeting Minutes: December 12, 2013"
  34. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  35. New York Times, "University of Texas President Ends Tough Year With Yet Another Battle," December 15, 2011
  36. Texas Tribune, "UT President Asks Law School Dean to Resign Immediately," December 8, 2011
  37. National Jurist, "UTexas dean resignation raises questions about compensation practices," December 19, 2011
  38. Austin American Statesman, "UT law dean forced to step down," December 8, 2011
  39. Texas Tribune, "UT Law's Forgivable Loans to Faculty "Not Appropriate,"" November 13, 2012
  40. Texas Monthly, "Gene Powell’s Letter to Jim Pitts," July 16, 2013
  41. Texas Tribune, "Wallace Hall: The TT Interview," June 25, 2013
  42. American Spectator, "Transparency for Thee," October 25, 2013
  43. Daily Texas Online, "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013
  44. Daily Texas Online, "Former UT System vice chancellor alleges Regent Wallace Hall’s ‘clear intent to get rid of Bill Powers’," October 24, 2013
  45. Dallas Morning News, "UT regent sought 800,000 documents, official says in impeachment hearing," October 22, 2013
  46. Watchdog, "‘Witch hunt’ fallout: Speaker calls for narrower public records law," February 5, 2014
  47. Texas Tribune, "UT System Responds to Transparency Committee Directives," February 3, 2014
  48. Texas Tribune, "Cigarroa letter to the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations," February 1, 2014
  49. Texas Tribune, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Updates Lawsuit Disclosures," April 30, 2013
  50. Real Clear Policy, "The Campaign Against Wallace Hall," August 15, 2013
  51. News-Journal, "University of Texas regent not worried by impeachment inquiry," September 9, 2013
  52. Texas Tribune, "Transparency Committee to Mull Impeachment of UT Regent," June 25, 2013
  53. Texas Tribune, "Perry Blasts Impeachment Probe of Wallace Hall," October 30, 2013
  54. Texas Tribune, "UT System Pushes Back Against Criticism of Regent Hall," July 16, 2013
  55. University of Texas System, "Letter from Eugene Powell to Jim Pitts," July 15, 2013
  56., "Longhorns: Senator used clout in UT law school admissions," November 13, 2013
  57. Texas Tribune, "UT Regent Hall Subpoenaed to Testify Before Committee," November 12, 2013
  58. Albany Times Union, "Texas House committee subpoenas Hall for Dec. 10," November 12, 2013
  59. Texas Tribune, "Committee Recalls Subpoena for UT Regent Hall," November 12, 2013
  60. San Francisco Chronicle, "Texas House subpoenas Hall, but then recalls it," November 12, 2013
  61. Texas Tribune, "UT System Lawyer: Hall May Have Shared Private Info," November 12, 2013
  62. Austin American Statesman, "UT Regent Wallace Hall might have broken privacy laws, panel members suggest," November 12, 2013
  63. Austin American Statesman, "Case against University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall Jr. takes shape," December 18, 2013
  64. The Republic, "House committee mulling impeachment of UT regent Hall scold his silence as hearings resume," December 18, 2013
  65. News Journal, "Lawmaker: Regent’s silence ’slap in face’" December 19, 2013
  66. Dallas Morning News, "Regent’s inquiry has damaged University of Texas, school president contends," December 18, 2013
  67. Lubbock Avalanche Journal, "UT Regent facing possible ouster won't testify," December 18, 2013
  68. My San Antonio, "Impeachment panel may move without UT regent's testimony," December 17, 2013
  69. Texas Tribune, "Committee nears conclusion of impeachment probe," December 18, 2013
  70. 70.0 70.1 70.2 70.3 70.4 The Horn, "Powers testifies before House transparency committee," December 18, 2013
  71. My San Antonio, "Powers says questions about regents support hurt UT Austin," December 18, 2013
  72. Daily Texan, "In testimony, President Powers estimates cost of Regent Hall's records exceed $1 million," December 18, 2013
  73. Fort Worth Business Press, "Lawmaker: UT regent's silence a 'slap in the face'," December 19, 2013
  74. Austin American Statesman, "University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall’s conduct called 'slap in the face' to House panel," December 18, 2013
  75. Watchdog, "Chancellor is probing favoritism in UT admissions," December 19, 2013
  76. KXAN "Impeachment hearing canceled for Thursday" December 18, 2013