Ex-UPR president blasts board over Haddock dismissal, replacement process

By The Star Staff

Former University of Puerto Rico (UPR) President José M. Saldaña described as a catalog of errors the process of selecting a new interim president following the dismissal of UPR President Jorge Haddock, who is leaving July 31, that shows the ineptitude of the current university board.

In a column, Saldaña also said Haddock’s removal by the UPR board was a “catalog of errors and hazing on the part of the [UPR board] chairman, Emilio Colón, who is obviously unaware of the institution, its processes and its ideological leanings.”

He criticized the UPR board for praising Haddock in his letter of dismissal. Faced with a situation like the one that occurred, what followed was a letter consisting of three sentences thanking him for his work and wishing him luck in his future endeavors.

The second big mistake, Saldaña said, was allowing Haddock to remain in the position for three weeks until July 31 when he should have been removed immediately.

“When a person is removed from his position, that person usually becomes an enemy of those who remove him and it may be the case that in the time that he is allowed to continue in the position he sabotages, creates problems and leaves a minefield to his successor,” Saldaña wrote. “I’m not saying this is the case with Haddock, but regardless of the person in question, taking preventive measures is the right thing to do. This has happened before on different occasions at the UPR.”

The third mistake, he said, was to create a consultation process that delegates to a five-member committee the selection of an interim president. This type of process is not part of UPR regulations and until now, the interim president of the UPR has been selected by the UPR board chairman and quickly endorsed by the members of the board, given the need to act quickly to avoid interrupting administrative processes, Saldaña said.

He said the process created by Colón has resulted in forces from different university sectors with particular personal and ideological interests submitting the names to be considered by the UPR board’s five-member committee, including sectors of the university administration that supported the presidency of Jorge Haddock that want to continue controlling the institution in the same way, to satisfy his particular personal interests, some economic and others ideological.

“But this process also gave rise to a slew of candidates from ideological sectors of the extreme left and Popular Democratic Party [PDP], retired enemies of the current university administration,” Saldaña said.

The UPR board committee submitted to the Board the names of Ingrid Montes, who he said is “of a communist leftist ideology who does not have any administrative experience and is a recognized member of the PDP.”

The committee also submitted the name of César Cordero Montalvo, a former UPR Utuado Campus chancellor, Saldaña noted. Neither candidate obtained the needed votes to become president.

Before the end of the meeting, Herman Cestero, a board member, proposed that the board consider Arturo Avilés as a candidate for president. The committee, he said, had eliminated Avilés from consideration due to “gossip without substance regarding a building under construction in the Bayamón Campus, of which Avilés had been a chancellor.”

Cestero’s request had the intention that, in an act of justice, Avilés would reveal all the documentation in his possession on the alleged unsubstantiated irregularities regarding the building in question, Saldaña said.

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