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Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.

With Greatest Respect: The Cigarroa Presidency

March 2009

by Natalie Gutierrez

An overwhelming feeling of pride swept across the UT Health Science Center San Antonio campus as faculty, staff, students, donors and community leaders celebrated the Jan. 9 announcement that Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., their president and leader for the past eight years, had been named chancellor of The University of Texas System. As Dr. Cigarroa began his new role Feb. 2 in Austin, he left behind a legacy of unparalleled achievement, upward trajectory and hope for the future of this university and its missions in San Antonio and South Texas.

"With greatest respect," the complimentary closing that Dr. Cigarroa often uses in his correspondence, epitomized his leadership style as president - influential, progressive, committed, determined, caring, kind and humble. Dr. Cigarroa treated everyone with the utmost respect and usually offered them his customary, warm Texas-sized abrazo.

As the university and its constituents wish Dr. Cigarroa all the best in his new position, they reflect with admiration, honor and gratitude upon the eight extraordinary years that Dr. Cigarroa and his wife, Graciela, served this institution.

Below is a glimpse of some of the landmark achievements at the Health Science Center during his tenure.

  • On Oct. 13, The University of Texas System Board of Regents names pediatric and transplant surgeon Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. He assumes his new role Oct. 16, 2000. President Cigarroa officially accepts the presidency in a Sept. 7, 2001 investiture ceremony rich with academic tradition and South Texas pride.

  • The Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) is dedicated in Harlingen. Third- and fourth-year medical students can complete part of their medical education at the RAHC and its affiliated clinics and teaching hospitals in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. More than 700 students have either spent a year at the RAHC or completed a rotation there. Twenty-three medical residents also have graduated from the RAHC, and half remain in the Valley to serve the population.

  • The Laredo Campus Extension is dedicated. Students in respiratory therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, dental hygiene and dentistry experience part of their education at the D.D. Hachar Building. The campus is headquarters for the South Texas Environmental Education and Research (STEER) program and the Laredo office of the Med Ed program that introduces young people to careers in the health sciences.

  • The M.D./Ph.D. program is established to improve the pipeline and demographics of clinician/educators. President Cigarroa states that this goal is important to the future and success of all health professions.

  • The Health Science Center initiates its Campaign for the Future of Health, the largest campaign in the university’s history. To date, the campaign, including public and private support, has raised more than $283 million, which is 94 percent of the $300 million goal. Since 2000, $353 million has been raised in cash gifts to support the missions of the Health Science Center, with 58 percent, or just under $200 million, raised in the last three years.

  • The Children’s Cancer Research Institute is dedicated. Faculty and administrators vow to work diligently toward a future when the words "children" and "cancer" will never be used in the same sentence again.

Dr. Cigarroa thanks Gov. Briscoe
President Cigarroa thanks Gov. Briscoe, a lifelong friend of The University of Texas System, for his exceptional generosity to the Health Science Center.
  • The UT System Board of Regents approves the building of the Medical Arts and Research Center in the South Texas Medical Center that will consolidate eight of the Health Science Center’s clinic locations into a single premier medical practice for UT Medicine San Antonio, the largest multi-specialty practice group in South Texas. Expected completion for the building is September 2009.

  • The Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies is dedicated at the Texas Research Park. Since 2000, the Barshop Institute has received $83 million in grants from the National Institute on Aging. It is hailed by the National Institutes of Health as the "gold standard of aging research in the United States."


  • The Edinburg-RAHC is dedicated. The second building, home of the RAHC Medical Research Division, is located on the campus of UT Pan American in Edinburg. This division provides state-of-the-art laboratory space and equipment for scholars and scientists to conduct research on critical health problems of the South Texas/Border Region.

  • The UT System Board of Regents approves the building of the South Texas Research Facility (STRF). The 200,000-square-foot STRF will house the university’s growing research enterprise, including the Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science and the Center for Healthy Aging. Expected completion for the building is 2011.

Dr. and Mrs. Cigarroa with Dr. Henrich
William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, dean of the School of Medicine, vice president for medical affairs and now interim president (right), congratulates Dr. and Mrs. Cigarroa.

  • The Cancer Therapy & Research Center joins operations with the Health Science Center, making this historic merger the largest gift in the Health Science Center’s history. The union promises to build a world-premier cancer center that, backed by the power of academic research and discovery, provides better lives to cancer patients and their families.

  • Bill Greehey and the Greehey Family Foundation donate $25 million to the Health Science Center. In recognition of their historic contribution, the name of the North Campus is changed to the Greehey Academic and Research Campus, spotlighting the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute.

  • Philanthropists Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long donate $25 million to the Health Science Center. In honor of the Longs’ generosity, the university’s central campus is renamed the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Campus.

  • The Academy of Master Teachers is established at the Health Science Center to encourage the scholarship of teaching and an ongoing institutional recognition of and commitment to teaching and learning excellence.

  • Former Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. makes a $5 million contribution to the Health Science Center in support of cardiology and women’s health. The Health Science Center names the Division of Cardiology the Janey and Dolph Briscoe Division of Cardiology. To date, Gov. Briscoe has given $9 million to cardiovascular disease research at the Health Science Center in honor of his late wife, Janey. In February 2009, Gov. Briscoe was awarded the prestigious Santa Rita Award by the UT System Board of Regents, which recognized him for his remarkable support of UT institutions that spans nearly 70 years.

  • President Cigarroa is named chancellor of the UT System on Jan. 9. He becomes the first Hispanic to head a major public university system in the country.

During Dr. Cigarroa’s tenure, the UT Health Science Center experienced a surge of growth and success that paved the way for an exciting and promising road ahead. Here are a few examples.
Onward and upward



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