The University of Texas System Board of Regents has authorized the establishment of a scholarship endowment to honor Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa.
The scholarship endowment will support students attending the new medical school in South Texas.
“Chancellor Cigarroa is laser focused on the mission of a medical school in South Texas. He believes, as I do, that the medical school will transform the region and vastly improve healthcare for the millions of people who call the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas home,” said Powell, who is a native of Weslaco and shares the Chancellor’s commitment to a medical school in South Texas. “I can think of nothing more appropriate than a scholarship in the name of the man who has pursued this goal with such determination and perseverance.”
The Board approved the scholarship at a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 15, at the University of Texas Health Science Center – Tyler. Regents approved $50,000 for the initial endowment. When UT System vice chancellors and the General Counsel to the Board learned of the scholarship to honor the chancellor, they immediately responded with additional commitments of nearly $20,000.
“Each year that Dr. Cigarroa has served as chancellor, the Board of Regents has voted to award him a salary increase. And each year, the chancellor has declined that increase,” said Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell. “We are honored to have the opportunity to reward Chancellor Cigarroa for his exceptional work in a way that is truly valuable to him.”
As a native of Laredo, the South Texas region holds a special significance for Chancellor Cigarroa. He has described the establishment of a medical school there as a personal mission and said he will not rest until the goal is accomplished.
He is pleased the scholarship that bears his name will support the medical education of a Valley son or daughter who will remain in their community and play a part in protecting and improving the health of South Texans.
“This is a true honor to be recognized in this way by the Board of Regents and my colleagues,” Cigarroa said. “I am thrilled that this scholarship will open doors for deserving students and help build this new school that is so important to the people of Texas.”
Chancellor Cigarroa is a third-generation physician. A nationally renowned surgeon, Dr. Cigarroa joined the faculty of the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1995, where he held the position of director of pediatric surgery before being appointed its third president in 2000. He was president of the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio until 2009 when he was chosen to oversee UT System’s nine academic and six health institutions as chancellor.
He often talks wistfully of his time as a fulltime pediatric surgeon, but even with his busy schedule as chancellor, he still practices medicine, performing liver and kidney transplants on adults and children as often as twice a month.
“I believe education saves lives,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “That’s why I’m here.”