Friday, July 19, 2024

First Hispanic to Preside Over Major University System


A Mexican-American pediatric surgeon named Dr. Francisco Cigarroa will become the United States’ first Hispanic to preside over a major university system. Dr. Cigarroa will head the University of Texas System, which currently is facing financial woes and complaints about diversity.

Cigarroa, who will act as chief executive officer of the UT System, will help administer an $11.5 billion operating budget and preside over 15 campuses with more than 194,000 students.

Leaving the position as president of the UT Health Sciences Center in San Antonio, Dr. Cigarroa will be entering a new arena one(DELETE)  that deals far more with politics. The state Legislature granted school officials the power to raise tuition rates in 2003 but has been pressuring the school system to stop increases. He faces complaints about rising tuition and lack of diversity. He is expect to lead efforts of rebuilding with the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, which suffered $1 billion in damage from Hurricane Ike.

“Challenges really don’t dissuade me from pursuing important opportunities,” Cigarroa told The Associated Press. “If you’re an optimist, you see opportunities, and that’s the way I’ve been brought up.”

He’s more passionate about the prospect of changing admissions policies, which currently allows automatic entry to state universities for students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class. Cigarroa said the system could keep or even increase diversity in the student body even if the top 10 percent law is modified or eliminated.

“I think we can find an appropriate balance where universities not only look at the top 10 percent, but they also look at those wonderfully competitive students who may have not made the top 10 percent but have done something incredibly special,” Cigarroa said.