UT Board of Regents honor Chancellor Cigarroa, approve new nursing graduate program

Alex Wilts

EL PASO — The UT System Board of Regents honored outgoing Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and approved the establishment of a doctoral nursing program at UT during a meeting Thursday.

Held in El Paso to celebrate the 100th anniversary of UT-El Paso, Thursday’s meeting served as Cigarroa’s last meeting as chancellor, barring any specially called meetings. Cigarroa will step down from his position in December to return to practicing medicine at UT Health Science Center-San Antonio.

“He’s returning full-time to his first love — transplant surgery,” Chairman Paul Foster said at the meeting. “He never really left it. He’s been the hardest working chancellor in America for the last six years — leading the UT System and performing surgery a few times a month.”

Cigarroa previously served as president of UT Health Science Center-San Antonio before being hired as chancellor in 2009.

“I set out on this remarkable journey with the trust and the support of the Board of Regents, and, for that, I am exceedingly grateful,” Cigarroa said in a speech to the board. “We have truly made higher education in Texas more accessible, and we have made it more affordable to the hundreds of thousands of students who seek a better future.”

Retired Naval Adm. William McRaven will succeed Cigarroa as chancellor in January. McRaven graduated from the University with a degree in journalism in 1977 and is known for overseeing the operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

“He is an experienced and effective leader with impeccable integrity and a long and distinguished career of service to our nation,” Cigarroa said. “Bill McRaven has my full support, and the System will be in excellent hands.”

After honoring Cigarroa, the regents approved to establish a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program at the University.

“This is a professional program, and it is a professional program motivated and designed for workforce needs,” President William Powers Jr. said during a presentation to the board Wednesday.

There are currently 11 doctoral nursing programs in Texas — but none in Central Texas. The program will provide additional doctoral preparation to nurses who will be able to serve as clinical faculty in other nursing programs across Texas. Nationally, only 14 percent of nurses have a master’s degree
or higher.

Powers said the program would start with 12 students but grow to 20. Tuition is expected to start at $30,000 for five semesters. He said the program would be self-supporting, since its revenues are expected to cover all costs associated with the program — including faculty and staff compensation, materials and required University and student fees, according to the agenda book.

At the regents’ meeting Wednesday, Bruce Zimmerman, CEO and chief internal officer of the UT Investment Management Company, announced that System endowment funds invested in stocks, bonds and equity interest had a 15.1 percent return for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31. 

“I am pleased to report such strong investment returns for the previous fiscal year, which generated approximately $4 billion in additional financial resources for the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems,” Zimmerman said. “Over the past decade, investment returns have surpassed
$15.5 billion.”