UPR Carolina provost submits questionable appointment for UPR trustees’ approval
By The Star Staff
Despite questionable qualifications for the job and without consulting the university community as required by University of Puerto Rico regulations, UPR Carolina Campus Provost José Meza has submitted to the university presidency the appointment of interim academic dean José Luis Ayala for the position on a permanent basis.
In a document reviewed by the STAR, Ubaldo Córdova, executive vice president for academic affairs & research at the University of Puerto Rico and a member of UPR’s governing board of trustees, told UPR Interim President Mayra Olavarría Cruz that Meza was recommending Ayala and that the recommendation was made on Dec. 13. However, Meza made the recommendation without adequate consultation with the university community, a source close to the Carolina Campus Academic Senate told the STAR.
“On December 13, we know for a fact that he was interviewing José Martínez, a faculty member of the Criminal Justice department for the position of academic dean,” the source said.
The sources said Meza did not follow the process established by UPR rules. Dec. 10 was the deadline for submitting candidates for the position. From there on, Meza is supposed to interview candidates and consult with the university community by making available the working plans of the different candidates.
“But he did not do that, he just went ahead and submitted Ayala’s confirmation without the consultation,” one of the sources said. “On top of that, all of this has been done while everyone is on vacation and no one is paying attention.”
The document recommending Ayala is supposed to go for approval before an academic affairs committee that is part of UPR’s governing board of trustees, “but they are going to trust [Meza’s] word that everything was done correctly and are not going to investigate,” the source added.
The appointment of Ayala has raised concerns because he allegedly does not have the “notable academic experience,” or discipline required for the job.
Ayala’s file, which was leaked publicly, 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 classes dropped and seven repeated courses. The Fs were in some basic courses.
Ayala has a master’s degree from Atlantic University College and got the benefit of a presidential scholarship to study at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain despite his grades. 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 is to subsidize studies in areas that are difficult to recruit instructors for.
“His specialty was not in an area of difficult recruitment,” a source told the STAR. “The academic offer of his department did not require doctorate degrees.”
Ayala has also been criticized for appointing individuals for teaching positions for which they are not qualified and that do not have the support of departmental staff members.
Meza has also attracted criticism for appointing Gregory Bermúdez as administrative dean even though he does not have a college degree as required in the job description.