Concerns raised about qualifications of dean at UPR Carolina
By The Star Staff
University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Carolina Campus officials, on condition of anonymity, have raised concerns about the qualifications of José Ayala to occupy the position of academic dean after information about his undergraduate degree grades was leaked at the campus.
“It is important to note that the academic deanship is a higher learning institution that is the leading academic authority and must be an example to all of the teaching positions it directs,” a source close to UPR Carolina said, noting that the person occupying the position must show ample discipline, intellectual knowledge and aptitude.
Ayala did not answer text messages or messages left in his office.
The person occupying the position must also be accessible, have vast administrative experience and notable academic experience, according to sources.
Nonetheless, Ayala’s file shows a deficient and undisciplined background as an undergraduate. His academic file shows he changed majors three times after entering college in 1997. He was first in interior design, then in graphic arts and then in commercial advertising before finally reclassifying in the area of professional improvement in 2005. The file shows 22 grade Cs, one D, eight F’s, at least six dropped classes and seven repeated courses. The F’s were in some basic courses.
Ayala has a masters degree from Atlantic University College and got the benefit of a presidential scholarship to study at Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. The presidential scholarship, which he received while Antonio García Padilla was UPR president, was not subject to public scrutiny at the time. The presidential scholarship, which has been criticized in the past, is to subsidize studies in areas that are difficult to recruit.
“His specialty was not in an area of difficult recruitment. The academic [rules] of his department did not require doctorate degrees,” said the source, who questioned whether Ayala qualified for the scholarship in the first place.
The sources criticized Ayala for what they said is his poor management of the academic deanship. As of Dec. 11, the dean had failed to pay certain compensations due to professors even though the first trimester at UPR Carolina, which operates on trimesters and not semesters, has finished. The trimester began Sept. 7 and ended Nov. 23.
The sources within UPR Carolina have also expressed concern that Ayala has appointed professors to teaching positions. He is said to have given the green light to the appointment of a woman, who is the sister of a graphic department professor, to teach in the Education Department in an area where she is not qualified. A departmental staff committee opposed the appointment and sent Ayala a letter expressing their concerns, which he did not answer. The STAR contacted the head of the department, Enrique Pérez, but he declined to comment.
A group of professors on Nov. 2 then appealed the matter to Chancellor José Meza Pereira, who reverted the decision back to Ayala, asking him to deal with it on Nov. 4.
“Since then, the quarter finished and Ayala did not deal with the situation, ignoring the pleas of the department committee,” the source said.