UPR plan to jettison untenured professors may be unworkable at some campuses
By The Star Staff
The University of Puerto Rico’s (UPR) plan to cut most of its untenured professors, who make up 47% of the estimated 3,000 professors in the island’s main public university system, goes against recommendations made in UPR’s fiscal plan and will be impossible to implement in some of the 11 campuses.
The Financial Oversight and Management Board in the latest fiscal plan for UPR calls for payroll cuts of non-teaching staff and not teaching staff. The oversight board said that to generate significant savings or more than $100 million per year, UPR must reduce non-faculty personnel through the combination of attrition and consolidation of administrative offices. The fiscal plan also calls for a reduction of employees in positions of trust.
However, UPR Interim President Mayra Olavarría Cruz earlier this month sent to all chancellors a document titled “Criteria for the Programming of Undergraduate Registration,’’ which establishes that most courses will be given by tenured professors. If a campus needs to use professors under contract, they will have to pay for them out of their own budget, according to the directive.
“The [oversight board] said the excess fat had to be cut from non-teaching staff. She is cutting teaching staff,” governing board member Herman Cestero said.
The board, however, did not paralyze the directive as Olavarría believes many of the professors under contract will be hired back.
UPR Río Piedras Campus Chancellor Luis Ferrao Delgado, who was elected UPR president last week, is slated to implement the directive at all of the 11 campuses. He sent a letter on May 17 stating the order will be enforced at the Río Piedras campus.
The proposed cuts to untenured or professors under contract will seriously impact the offering of courses at the smaller campuses, the STAR has learned.
Miguel Pérez, head of the UPR Carolina Campus chapter of the Puerto Rican University Professors Association (APPU), said the directive may result in a cut of 62% of the 151 professors at that campus, according to their latest numbers. Of the estimated 94 professors under contract who may be left jobless, about 82 are full-timers, which means they teach at least four courses at a time.
UPR Carolina Chancellor José Meza has yet to meet with the professors and the directors of the departments to discuss the directive. Classes are slated to end at the end of June and UPR Carolina, the only campus to operate under a trimester system, will start classes in September.
“We have a faculty meeting in June but I think that will be too late,” Pérez said. “This is a wrecked process for most of the campuses.”
The STAR learned that the campuses of Humacao, Bayamón, Aguadilla and Utuado will be severely impacted in course offerings. The Utuado campus “will be virtually left without any classes,” a source said.
UPR Arecibo Campus Chancellor Carlos Andújar Rojas said tenured professors already have their full-time load assigned to them and he will meet any needs with untenured professors.
“We will follow through with the directive,” he said.