• The San Juan Daily Star

UPR said not following its own policy on granting tenure

In order to obtain tenure, many professors reportedly resort to getting doctorate degrees in areas unrelated to what they are teaching.

By The Star Staff

While the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) has had a policy in place since 2006 that grants tenure to professors who have doctorate degrees or the equivalent terminal degree, it does not follow that policy.

To be able to obtain tenure and higher salaries, many professors resort to getting doctorate degrees in areas unrelated to what they are teaching because there are not doctorate degrees offered in their specific professions. Other professors, who refuse to get doctoral degrees in areas unrelated to their areas, are in turn being refused tenure.

According to the World Scholarship Forum, a terminal degree in areas such as architecture, library science, social work and graphic design is a masters’ degree. A medical degree and a juris doctor (law degree) are also considered terminal degrees.

The matter was brought up at a recent UPR governing board meeting by board member Herman Cestero, who had observed that some professors, despite having years of experience in their professions, are not being granted tenure or promoted because they do not have a doctorate degree even though their areas do not have doctorate degrees.

“UPR began to emphasize a stage of improvement of its teaching staff years ago, requiring professors to have doctorate degrees,” Cestero said at a Sept. 30 meeting. “But there are two things that worry me. Many [earn] PHDs in “jumping rope or macrame” simply to have a doctorate degree, but they are teaching the same class and simply getting $1,000 more. Others are not being promoted simply because in certain areas the master’s degree is the recognized terminal degree and are being forced to pursue doctoral degrees in areas in which they are not teaching.”

“We should continue to seek improvements, but we have to refine that so that these aberrations do not occur,” he added.

UPR Interim President Mayra Olavarría Cruz made it clear that the law requires a “terminal degree” in the area to teach in that area.

“If there is no doctorate degree, then [a master’s degree] is the terminal degree,” she said.

Cestero replied “but that is not being followed.”

“Many are required [to obtain] a doctorate degree,” he said.

UPR Board Chairwoman Mayda Velasco said that in the School of Architecture, professors must have earned a master’s degree to teach and there is no doctorate degree requirement.

The board members noted that over time, the regulation has been interpreted as requiring a doctorate degree but the regulation, which the STAR read, says “doctorate degree or the equivalent terminal degree.” The board agreed to take note of the matter.

Full-time instructors with doctorate degrees at UPR on average earn about $63,588 a year. A full-time tenured professor makes $94,416 per year with less than five years of experience.

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