Sources: Process for selecting deans at UPR Carolina remains obfuscated
By The Star Staff
More than a month after seeking the Academic Senate’s green light for a consultation to pick new deans, University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Carolina Provost José Meza has yet to inform the university community of the names of the candidates for academic and administrative deans and has yet to conduct consultations for the selection of a dean of students, sources close to the process said.
Meza did not return requests for comment left in his office.
The sources within the university community accused Meza of irregularities and noncompliance with regulations in the selection process and appointment of deans. They said Meza has appointed individuals to those positions who are unqualified and has kept them there for over a year without seeking the approval of the Academic Senate or UPR’s governing board, the latter of which has said it is up to UPR President Mayra Olavarría Cruz and not the board to intervene in the matter.
“It is discouraging for us to denounce this to the press, to denounce what is happening in our university community and to have the officials who are supposed to oversee all of this do nothing,” one of the sources said.
On Nov. 18, after the STAR revealed the gross violations of university law in the appointment of deans, Meza requested in a meeting of the Academic Senate to be authorized to conduct a direct consultation for the appointment of all deans.
“The university community thought that this process that the provost intended to carry out was highly questionable, since he already appointed deans whose appointments were never reported to the Academic Senate,” one of the sources said. “Some of these individuals have been occupying the position for more than a year; furthermore, it was evident that Meza, with this untimely and irregular process, intended to remedy his lack of compliance with the norms that regulate the appointments of deans that have taken place during his incumbency.”
Thirteen days after his request to the Academic Senate, Meza issued letters and disseminated through emails the start of the consultation process for the appointment of the deans of academic affairs and administrative affairs.
The letters were plagued with errors because Meza quoted regulations that do not exist, one of the sources said. In the memos, he cites articles 18.104.22.168 “of the UPR General Regulation. These articles do not exist in the aforementioned document; what does exist is a new section 22.214.171.124 that amends article 37 in the same,” the source said.
In the calls, when indicating the requirements that the candidates must satisfy so that the consulted community knows them, not included is the new section 126.96.36.199.3 of the UPR General Regulation that includes the professional credentials such as leadership and capacity that the candidate must have for the position and standards of professional ethics that are required of the person. Also not listed are other characteristics and qualities referred to in section 40.5 of the regulations and which are regularly included as part of the candidate’s profile.
According to the information received, it is not evident that a call has been made for candidates outside the university community. The consultation was held from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10, more than a week after classes ended and when there are very few people on campus.
“At this moment, more than a month after the request to the Academic Senate and over 11 days from the closing of the call, the consulted community does not know who the nominated candidates for each dean position are, and they do not know where to go to examine their curriculum vitae, the work plan and other circumstances of each of them,” another source said. “A consultation carried out correctly requires a properly oriented university community with access to the information of each candidate. We do not even know how the consultation will be carried out with the teaching and non-teaching personnel affected by the appointment as well as the students.”
“The last day of classes at the institution was November 23, 2021 and the consultation with the university community to nominate and select deans was scheduled by the provost from December 1 to 10, a non-school period in which there are no students or teachers, and most of the non-teaching staff are on regular leave,” one of the sources added. “Thus, it is not yet known how the consultation of the teaching and non-teaching staff affected by the appointments as well as the students will be carried out.”