• The San Juan Daily Star

UPR governing board president: Board members aren’t jeopardizing accreditation

By John McPhaul

Dr. Mayda Velasco, president of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) governing board, in a statement issued Monday described as “absolutely false” allegations made by Dr. Lourdes Soto de Laurido, a member of the board, through an email that was leaked to various media outlets in which she alleged lack of representation by the governing board at a recent meeting of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) with staff from the UPR Medical Sciences Campus.

Those allegations were noted in a STAR story on Monday concerning appointments at the UPR Carolina Campus.

In addition, Velasco clarified that the meeting was not part of an accreditation process, but rather was part of a self-study, for which she reiterated that at this time the accreditation of the campus is not at risk.

A self-study, she said, is an informal process carried out by the campuses where aspects such as their strategic plans are evaluated. It is not part of an accreditation or re-accreditation process. In some cases, she said, the presence of members of the governing board is not even required.

“Without venturing to speculate about the reasons that Dr. Soto had for issuing her email, I feel obliged to clarify that her allegations of lack of representation of the Board are absolutely false and have the fatal result of creating an unnecessary climate of intrigue and undue suspicions among the members of the Board, at the same time that with their dissemination they mislead and misinform the university community, the media and the general public,” Velasco said.

Soto de Laurido based part of her email on what she called unfortunate statements by a Mr. Uribe, a member of the MSCHE committee who, she said, commented that accreditation could be affected.

“These statements by a member of the MSCHE are improper, since he knows that I had been at the meeting answering questions and, furthermore, the meeting that was held does not take place within the framework of any accreditation or review process of accreditation,” Velasco said.

Velasco said each UPR campus determines who they want to invite for their self-study management. In this case, only a few members were invited and only the president of the governing board was asked questions. “The conversation at that meeting was high,” she said. “Very serious and in-depth topics such as the restructuring of the UPR’s debt, its Retirement System and budget aspects were discussed.”

Velasco said she participated in the virtual meeting that was held with the MSCHE for more than an hour and answered the questions that were asked of her as president of the governing board. Likewise, she said, the secretary of the organization, Dr. Margarita Villamil, one of the teachers’ representatives, was at the meeting.

“I don’t know what leads Dr. Soto to hide the fact that I was at that meeting, as president of the Board, and that I participated for more than an hour,” she said.

Velasco noted further that the participation of the 14 leaders was not requested and that it is the administration and the campus that lead MSCHE visits. She added that Villamil faced technical problems that did not allow her to transmit video, only audio, which she said was duly indicated through the videoconference application.

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