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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

UPR president recommends new interim chancellor for Medical Sciences Campus

Prof. Dharma Vázquez Torres

By The Star Staff

University of Puerto Rico (UPR) President Luis Ferrao Delgado has recommended the appointment of Dharma Vázquez Torres, a professor in the Graduate School of Public Health, as interim chancellor of UPR’s Medical Sciences Campus (RCM by its Spanish initials).

UPR governing board member Herman Cestero said the new candidate is slated to be evaluated at a meeting today.

The news came Wednesday, a day after the governing board voted to remove Ilka Ríos Reyes as RCM chancellor following a week of protests against her appointment. Students and some faculty were protesting against Ríos for reaching an agreement with a minor-aged medical student and her parents to avoid a lawsuit because the School of Medicine had failed to provide the student the required help due to her age. Before leaving her post, Ríos said she asked federal authorities to investigate whether the young girl’s rights were violated when her academic file was made public. She also said the campus is the target of a commonwealth comptroller’s probe.

A letter sent by Ferrao to the chairman of the UPR governing board, Ricardo Dalmau, shows that he also considered José Hawayek, Deborah Silva and Lelis Nazario, all School of Medicine professors, for the RCM chancellor job. He also considered Wanda Maldonado, from the School of Pharmacy, for the position.

For now, Carmen L. Cadilla, dean of Academic Affairs at the RCM, is acting as pro tempore chancellor until the appointment of an interim chancellor is confirmed.

The RCM has had at least six chancellors over the past five years, which may hinder its ability to meet governance requirements imposed by accrediting agencies.

The governing board decided to oust Ríos using a referendum instead of discussing the situation at a board meeting.

“In my opinion, this is barbaric and highly irresponsible that, for such an important decision, an extraordinary in-person meeting was not held where all members of the board could have the opportunity to discuss in their entirety the events that took place for President Ferrao to decide to ask Dr. Ríos to resign,” former UPR President José Saldaña said. “Likewise, it has been a great irresponsibility and lack of respect and consideration that this board had not summoned Chancellor Ríos so that she could offer her version of what was happening on campus.”

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