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Sources: Perry Backing Janek for UT Chancellor

Gov. Rick Perry is quietly lobbying for Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek to be the next chancellor of the University of Texas System.

Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek is shown at a Texas Tribune event in 2012.

Gov. Rick Perry is encouraging University of Texas System regents to consider Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek for the open job of chancellor, sources said Tuesday.

Francisco Cigarroa, the current UT System chancellor, last week announced his intention to resign from the post as soon as a replacement can be found. Perry has signaled the board and others that he would like Janek to have a shot at the position, sources told the Tribune. 

A call to Perry's office was not immediately returned, and Janek declined to comment. The final decision is not up to the governor but rather will be determined by a majority of the system's board of regents, all of whom were appointed by Perry.

At a press conference last week, Paul Foster, the chairman of the board, indicated that regents hope to have Cigarroa's successor in place within six months and that the governor's input on the matter will be "sought and certainly considered."

Janek, an anesthesiologist by training, previously served in the Texas Legislature for nearly two decades, representing Galveston and the Gulf Coast as a Republican, first in the House and later the Senate. After working as a lobbyist, he was appointed to his current post at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission by Perry in 2012.

Like the governor, he earned his bachelor's degree at Texas A&M University. But he also has UT System ties — he received his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Additionally, his wife, Shannon, is a development officer at the University of Texas at Austin.

When it comes to filling such executive positions in higher education, the governor's backing is no guarantee that the deal is sealed. When the regents selected Cigarroa as the UT System's new chancellor in 2009, Perry had been pushing for John Montford, a former state senator and former chancellor of the Texas Tech University System.

And in December, Perry supported the hiring of Guy Diedrich, the former head of government relations for the Texas A&M University System, as Texas A&M University's interim president. A&M regents — all Perry appointees — instead gave the job to Mark Hussey, A&M's vice chancellor and dean for agriculture and life sciences.

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