Cigarroa says in farewell: ‘I will always feel at home here’

SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 21, 2009) — Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., the pediatric and transplant surgeon whose inspiring leadership helped fuel momentum at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio for more than eight years, told hundreds of faculty, staff, students and community leaders today that the successes of his tenure “are truly yours.”

Hundreds attended the “With Greatest Respect: The Cigarroa Presidency” event, which drew its title from the complimentary closing Dr. Cigarroa often uses on personal correspondence. The event was both a retrospective of his tenure and a farewell to Dr. Cigarroa and his wife, Graciela. He begins work Feb. 2 in Austin as chancellor of The University of Texas System.

Dr. Cigarroa pointed out numerous Health Science Center accomplishments that resulted in a rising trajectory of teaching, diversity, research, multispecialty care and philanthropy. The charitable giving in particular is enhancing all of the university’s missions. “We have experienced incredible support from our community toward philanthropy,” Dr. Cigarroa said.

Over the last eight years, the Health Science Center implemented a plan that has doubled its net assets from less than $600 million to $1.2 billion, he said. 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. This recent increase includes transformative gifts of $25 million from the Greehey Family Foundation, $26 million from Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long, and $67 million from the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) Foundation, which are the largest three gifts in Health Science Center history.

“In 2008, the Health Science Center was recognized by UT System with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Fundraising, based on a 125 percent increase in philanthropic support in 2007, the largest increase of any UT institution,” Dr. Cigarroa said.

The many other areas he touched upon included:

• Strong beginnings for M.D./Ph.D. and M.D./Master of Public Health dual degree programs to train clinician-scientists and public health-trained physicians;
• Eighty faculty named as inaugural members of a new Academy of Master Teachers;
• Increasing student enrollment and graduation of 33 percent more Hispanic students;
• A 20 percent growth in residency positions;
• Expansion of Health Science Center campuses in Harlingen, Edinburg and Laredo;
• Medical students completing more than 600 student rotations in the Rio Grande Valley;
• Sizable growth in research grants and expenditures and the Health Science Center’s leading role as a research engine for South Texas;
• Revamping of the university’s clinical enterprise with construction of the Medical Arts and Research Center in the South Texas Medical Center;
• The CTRC joining the Health Science Center family in December 2007.

William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs who on Feb. 2 will become interim president of the Health Science Center, joined faculty, staff and student leaders in presenting Mrs. Cigarroa with a bouquet of yellow roses and cited her many areas of volunteer support, including founding the Council of Excellence in Women’s Health at the Health Science Center. The leaders then presented Dr. Cigarroa with a framed print of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Campus by Brother Cletus, a San Antonio artist.

“I will always feel at home here,” Dr. Cigarroa said in conclusion. “As chancellor, I will need to be fair and impartial to all 15 of the UT institutions, but this Health Science Center will always have a very special place in my heart. I look forward to taking great pride, albeit from 90 miles away, in the many successes yet to come.”

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $668 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 23,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and other health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit

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