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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Incoming UPR RCM chancellor receives support from Dental Medicine School faculty

Incoming UPR Medical Sciences Campus Chancellor Ilka Ríos Reyes

By The Star Staff

University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Medical Sciences Campus (RCM by its Spanish initials) incoming chancellor Ilka Ríos Reyes received the support of some 33 faculty members of the Dental Medicine School to occupy the position, according to a letter received by the STAR.

Meanwhile, the father of a minor-aged medical student at the center of a controversy that has caused some sectors of the RCM to reject Ríos, in a sworn statement accused some of the medical school professors objecting to her confirmation of manipulating the truth.

Ríos, who is slated to officially assume the post on Sept. 1, had reached a settlement in July 2022 with the then 15-year-old medical student, who had failed courses and was slated to be expelled, to avoid a lengthy lawsuit against the School of Medicine for failing to provide required assistance the student needed because of her age.

The settlement signed on July 7, 2022, was consistent with a prior one reached with the student in February 2021 by former RCM Chancellor Segundo Rodríguez. As part of the agreement, Ríos authorized the student to drop some of her second year-courses and take three courses, according to documents obtained by the STAR. A document from the registrar said she authorized a process to drop courses and not to change grades.

Ríos has been in hot water over her actions with regard to the student as some professors at the school said it put at risk the school’s accreditation.

Alejandro Franco Fernández, the parent of the minor medical student, said some of the professors at the school promoted actions against his daughter to force her to fail, causing her to seek administrative recourse that went all the way to the school’s presidency.

After the July 7, 2022 settlement agreement was signed, putting an end to the situation with the student, her grades and the school’s inability to help her, he said three professors, which he identified as Hilton Franqui, Joalex Antongiorgi and Adelaida Ortiz, “created a fictitious crisis, manipulating the truth, abusing their positions and causing damage to my minor daughter and suffering to my wife and myself.”

He said they went to the media for a story that was even published in U.S. mainland newspapers. He said the former interim chancellor, Carlos Ortiz, did not answer any emails seeking to execute the agreement.

“As of today, a year later, the request for compliance of the confidential settlement agreement of July 7, has not been handled,” Franco Fernández said.

Last week, the School of Medicine in a vote asked the UPR governing board, which had confirmed Ríos, to take back its decision arguing that Ríos’ actions put at risk the school accreditation.

Humberto Guiot, a joint associate professor, told the STAR that he convened the meeting, which was attended by some 200 School of Medicine staffers who were concerned about Ríos’ actions.

The STAR received information to the effect that the meeting was originally convened to discuss the medical school’s accreditation and not Ríos’ appointment.

“There was quorum at the start … but at the moment to vote, there were 40 people in Zoom and some 90 in the amphitheater,” a source said.

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