Last month’s announcement that the UT System Chancellor Dr. Francisco Cigarroa had announced his retirement after serving 5 years in the position led to a swift move to begin the replacement process, in spite of the fact that Cigarroa indicated that he would remain in the position until a new Chancellor is found. Now, the UT System has indicated that the institution has indeed initiated the process, announcing that they have contracted with an executive search firm who will formally lead the campaign to find Cigarroa’s replacement.
The company, Wheless Partners, is a proven national search firm with experience specific to the current search for a new Chancellor, and will assist in guiding the UT System’s Board of Directors through the process of sourcing and vetting the most qualified candidates. It has been reported that the UT System Chancellor’s pay scale begins at $198,000, expenses not included, which, coupled with the prestige of the position, will undoubtedly attract highly qualified candidates.
According to the new contract between the UT System and Wheless, the search process will be governed by a dozen specific search criteria and several optional services that detail exactly what the institution is looking for in new candidates, particularly after some of the issues confronting the Chancellor role, such as the controversy involving UT regent Wallace Hall, who could face impeachment amid a current legislative investigation.
That being said, Cigarroa’s public resignation last month was more of a retirement letter, and stated that his departure from the position was less about the tumult that he faced over the last five years as Chancellor and more about having an opportunity to return to full-time practice. Still, considering that the Chancellor position oversees 15 universities and health institutions, 213,000 students and an annual budget topping $14 billion, the Board of Directors are confronted with the challenge of selecting a new leader who will have the ability to navigate the intricacies of such a complex and demanding position.
Paul Foster, Gene Powell and Steve Hicks will also play a frontline role in the search for Cigarroa’s replacement, and Foster believes that, despite a few bumps in the road, Dr. Cigarroa’s tenure as Chancellor has been an undisputedly successful one: “Cigarroa will be a tough act to follow, but the board is committed to finding a stellar candidate,” Foster said. Considering that under his watch the UT System saw the approval of two new campuses, including a university in South Texas and a medical school in Austin, the prevailing sense in Texas is that under Cigarroa the school system indeed grew and prospered — a trend that the Board of Directors will look to continue.