SAN ANTONIO - Longtime University of Texas at San Antonio President Ricardo Romo announced Friday that he will step down and retire immediately.
UTSA announced Romo had been placed on administrative leave in February pending a review of allegations "related to his conduct."
In an email statement sent out to the UTSA community from Steve Leslie, UT system executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, Romo said Friday that he has been made aware that the "manner in which [he] embraced women made them uncomfortable and was inappropriate."
He also apologized and said he feels this decision to retire "will eliminate the possibility of any distraction or disruption of the great work going on at UTSA."
As KENS 5 reported, Romo previously announced he would retire from his role as university president in August 2015.
UPDATE: Romo released a statement to the public Friday afternoon.
STATEMENT OF DR. RICARDO ROMO, FORMER PRESIDENT, UTSA
The reaction to the announcement of my retirement has been overwhelmingly positive, and Harriett and I are forever grateful for these sentiments from people in all walks of life in this city, this state, and across America.
Nonetheless, there may be accusations, rumors, and speculations about conduct other than the "abrazos" that were considered offensive. That I had no improper intent giving or receiving "abrazos" is of no consequence. If they were thought improper and offensive then they were, and but for a prohibition from contacting anyone involved I would have already directly apologized.
The Chancellor is correct in establishing that there is no "abrazo exception" for a 73-year-old retiring university president. I accept that this is the world we live in. But he has taken no action giving any false rumor or accusation credence. This I would have fought without hesitation. My family was fully prepared to have me wage this battle, my legal team was confident of the outcome, and falsehoods did not drive my decision to retire now. I made it clear to the Chancellor that I was not afraid of the truth, and that I would not run from a lie.
The only thing certain about my tenure as President is that it would end. The average for service as President of a University in America is about 6 to 8 years. I have been blessed with 18. Nothing about my departure now takes away my pride in the successes we have achieved. Nothing has diminished my love for my staff, our world-class faculty, and our student body of achievers who apply the work ethic instilled by their parents to better their lives and their world through higher education.
I close with the Track & Field athlete's standard farewell: Godspeed and God Bless!
Pedro Reyes, former executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at The University of Texas System, and currently special assistant to the chancellor and professor of education policy at the University of Texas at Austin, has acted as interim university president during the review.
UPDATE: Reyes shared in an email sent to the UTSA community that the past few weeks have been a time of "uncertainty" for the university. He's expected to serve up until the fall semester of 2017, when an official president is chosen. Read his complete statement below.
By now, you may have heard that Dr. Ricardo Romo has decided to retire from UTSA effective immediately, and I will be staying on as Interim President until your new president is selected, prior to the start of the Fall 2017 semester.
I know the past few weeks have been a time of uncertainty for the university, but I want you to know that we remain focused on you and your success. You came to UTSA because you want the very best education, and we are all committed to helping you achieve that as you prepare for your future.
In just the few weeks I have been on campus, I have had the chance to meet with several student organizations, and many of you individually. I am so impressed by your dedication and commitment. In the days ahead, I look forward to meeting even more of you and hearing what's on your mind.
While my tenure at UTSA will only last a few months, I want you to know that you can count on me to advocate for your best interests. Academic success has always been, and will continue to be, my utmost priority.
Together, we will carry on our tradition of excellence and continue taking bold steps that will bring us ever closer to Tier One. I am so honored to have the opportunity to serve you.
KENS 5 will keep you updated on this story as it unfolds.
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