Thursday, September 24, 2020

New interim president elected for University of Puerto Rico

By on July 13, 2017

SAN JUAN – Prof. Darrel Hillman has been voted interim president of the University of Puerto Rico, filling a seat left vacant since May 23.

The Medical Sciences Campus professor was elected 6-3, with votes in his favor from members of the administration of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, including his appointees and the representatives of the Department of Education and the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (FAFAA).

The meeting, which lasted less than 10 minutes, was the first to include the newest members of the university’s governing board. The governor appointed Luis Berríos Amador and Antonio Monroig on Tuesday, and since they are recess appointments the new members didn’t need to wait for Senate confirmation to be sworn in. Berríos was president of the UPR governing body during the administration of Gov. Luis Fortuño, when the entity was called the board of trustees.

Hillman teaches at the School of Dental Medicine of the Medical Sciences Campus. Besides being a professor, he has been involved in campus administrative processes, such as the reaccreditation of the medical center unit.

The University of Puerto Rico Clock Tower in Río Piedras. (File)

In a press conference after the meeting, Hillman indicated that the budget process has already begun, and therefore he doesn’t need start a new one. The new interim president said it is urgent that the institution’s probationary accreditation and naming  Río Piedras campus chancellor be dealt with. He said he expects that vacancy to be filled in the next few days. As for agreements reached with respect to the strike, Hillman said he would need time to analyze them.

Another topic that needed to be discussed in the meeting was the search and consultation process for the university’s presidency. However the meeting was adjourned before the matter was addressed. In the same press conference, UPR Governing Board Chairman Walter Alomar said there is the possibility of amending the current process. Previously he had expressed intentions of discarding the current search and consultation process and starting a new one.

The election of the interim president was marked by a division between the members of the community, who voted for José Lasalde, and of the representatives of the executive branch. Professor representative Alan Rodríguez did not attend. With the designation of Berríos and Monroig, the board vacancies are reduced to four and the representation of the academic community becomes the minority.

The board is currently composed by four members of the university community, four direct appointments by the governor, and seats reserved under the law for the Education Department and FAFAA.

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