Thursday, July 27, 2017

Professors argue against further cuts to UPR budget

By on March 10, 2017

The University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus, clock tower (File photo)

The University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus, clock tower (File photo)

SAN JUAN – Since the University of Puerto Rico has made adjustments surpassing $300 million over the past few years, the faculty of its College of Education argued that the UPR is not in a position to handle another $300 million reduction in government subsidies.

The faculty’s proposal, expressed through a resolution approved March 2, is that the central government and the Fiscal Oversight and Management Board “accept the budget reductions that have already been made” as the UPR’s contribution to Puerto Rico’s fiscal plan.

That is not to say the professors are against the UPR making adjustments. In said resolution, the faculty is asking for a governance, administrative and organizational restructuring of the university. But they emphasized that any restructuring proposal needs to come from the university.

Education Department Dean Roamé Torres González and members of the university’s administration presented the resolution to the press and argued that the UPR needs to be viewed as a key element in the island’s social and economic development.

“It is important that the University is audited based on its mission, instead of purely economic criteria. We are responsible for the development of professionals, the creation of knowledge, the defense of human rights and the service we bring to the country,” Torres González said.

Torres went on to explain that to address the government funding cutback from Act 66 of 2014 the UPR had implemented a hiring freeze, as well as an employee reduction program. The institution has also reduced its academic offering, some employee benefits and facility maintenance.

Loida Martínez, associate dean of academic affairs, and Consuelo Torres, director of the accreditation office, both argued that further monetary reductions could jeopardize the school’s service quality.

“The UPR cannot handle any more reductions. Having to make any more reductions will dramatically affect the programs. We don’t have [the required] specialists for some of our programs. If we can’t hire specialists for those programs, said programs suffer,” Martínez said.

Torres added that the decay in campus infrastructure is something accreditation agencies take into account. As an example, he mentioned the remodeling of the education department’s library, which has been on hold for years, preventing it from functioning properly.

To discuss the school’s situation and the fiscal plan, the professors propose a general faculty assembly conducted by the campus chancellor. Last month, the Academic Senate of the Río Piedras campus also proposed a general faculty assembly to be held March 24. Current acting Chancellor Haydée Rivera has not called for an assembly yet.

 

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