Hispanic to Lead Texas University System

AP, February 1, 2009

A Mexican-American pediatric surgeon will become the first Hispanic to preside over a major U.S. university system when Dr. Francisco Cigarroa takes the helm at the University of Texas System, which faces financial woes and complaints about diversity.

Cigarroa, a 51-year-old pediatric transplant surgeon from Laredo, looks at his new job as the system’s new chancellor starting Monday as an opportunity to exceed expectations.

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Cigarroa, as the 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.

Complaints over soaring tuition costs

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Cigarroa has refused to specify his views on tuition restraints but said school UT officials and legislators have to work together to resolve the issue.

He’s more passionate about the prospect of changing admissions policies, which currently dictate automatic entry to state universities for students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

UT wants the policy relaxed so it can have more say about who gets in the door. At UT-Austin, more than 80 percent of the Texas freshmen gained admission though the top 10 percent provision.

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.

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