On the day a new president of the United States is sworn in to office, another president steps down.
The University of Texas-Pan American president Dr. Blandina Cardenas has announced her retirement and cites her health as the reason. Cardenas will be president of the university until the end of January and Paul Sale, the university's provost and vice president for academic affairs, will assume the duties of the presidency until the University of Texas System appoints an interim president. Cardenas became the first woman to lead UTPA in 2004.
In an interview with the Edinburg Review, Paul Sale said it is clear that she needs to watch out for her own health. “I think that she had to make a decision and it’s been weighing heavily on her. Clearly it is a loss for the Valley; it is a loss for the state.”
Sale said Cardenas had been thinking about her retirement after the last graduation the university had in December. “She really took some time to reflect and came to the conclusion that her health was paramount,” he said.
Cardenas had open heart surgery in 2007.
Sale said her reason for retiring did not reflect the recent allegations of plagiarism against her.
“She is a woman of high integrity and I don’t know what has come of those allegations. When she told us of her retirement, there was nothing related to the plagiarism allegations,” he said.
Sale does not know what Cardenas current health status is but knows that while she was president, the university accomplished many milestones.
“The Valley has a lot to be proud of for what she has done,” he said.
David Prior, executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at the UT system, said he is pleased with the accomplishments Cardenas has made while president of the university. “She has done a tremendous job reaching out to the community. With minority and first generation students attending college,” he said in a phone interview with the Edinburg Review.
Prior said a national search for a new president will begin and can take up to nine months.
South Texas College president Dr. Reed about Dr. Cardenas stated that, “The unexpected retirement by Dr. Cardenas as President of UTPA is a tremendous step backward for the Rio Grande Valley. Dr. Cardenas is a valued friend and colleague. She did much to nurture the relationship and partnerships between UTPA and STC. Under her leadership, UTPA and STC were able to forge many successful partnerships and collaborations all focused on student success. I have every confidence the new UT-system chancellor; Dr. Francisco Cigarroa will find the right president who will continue Dr. Cardenas’ efforts at UTPA.”
State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa released a statement saying "Dr. Cardenas' departure signals a significant loss for the University of Texas-Pan American and South Texas. Dr. Cardenas set a standard for academic excellence and continuous pursuit of self-realization and personal enrichment. During her tenure, Dr. Cardenas led UT-Pan American's efforts to further establish the university as a model institution of higher education, serving a highly diverse population and increasing the access to advanced degrees in South Texas. I wish Dr. Cardenas the best in her future endeavors and congratulate her on her commitment to the South Texas community. She brought us a wealth of experience, perspective, and capacity for leadership. Dr. Cardenas served as more than just president of UT-Pan American. In every way, she formed part of our culture, our community, and our everyday lives."
Sale hopes Cardenas does not leave the university completely. “I hope that she will never completely sever ties with this university. Her vision and her passion, is just too much to give up.”