By The Star Staff
The University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Governing Board may postpone Thursday’s vote to choose a permanent UPR president as it appears none of the candidates have a majority vote, two board members told the STAR Tuesday.
In separate interviews, board members Herman Cestero and Leo Valentín did not dismiss the possibility of such a scenario.
“I don’t expect that to happen, but it is a possibility we can not dismiss,” Cestero said.
Valentín noted that while “anything can happen,” the governing board can choose to hold a runoff between the two candidates who receive the most votes, or postpone the vote altogether.
Neither Valentín nor Cestero believe that reports of a lawsuit against UPR Río Piedras Campus Chancellor Luis Ferrao Delgado over the appointment of professors in the School of Law and of complaints against UPR Chancellor Carlos Andújar Rojas over the use of his publicly funded vehicle have influenced the minds of board members.
The problem is that the governor withdrew the nomination of board member Alejandro Camporreale on Monday as he was slated to be rejected by the Senate. Camporreale supports Andújar for the presidency. Three members of the now 13-member board are undecided, and two others have not revealed how they are going to vote. Andújar has four votes and two members of the board have publicly said they support Ferrao. Two other board members support Alexandra Medina-Borja.
Valentín and Cestero believe that as of Tuesday afternoon, none of the candidates had a majority vote.
The board met Monday to interview Andújar and Ferrao, with the questions focused on the budget.
“There were a lot of complaints because of a lack of information on the numbers,” Valentín noted.
Cestero said that besides questions on how the candidates will manage the budget, there were questions on the UPR’s finances, the retirement system, the governance situation, student issues and appointments.
Cestero and Valentín said the board asked Ferrao about a lawsuit on the appointment of professors at the UPR Law School. The suit involves a woman who has a doctorate degree who sued because the university chose master’s degree-holding candidates as professors. Ferrao told the board members that a juris doctor is the “terminal degree” to qualify as a UPR law professor and there are eight other criteria of selection, which was made by a dean.
The board was satisfied with the answer, Valentín said.
The board members also said UPR Interim President Mayra Olavarría Cruz submitted to the Justice Department a legal opinion from UPR adviser Lourdes Rodríguez to the Justice Department on Andújar’s use of his publicly funded vehicle. Two other previous investigations found that Andújar did not misuse his car, but the opinion of Rodríguez, who was appointed to her position by Ferrao, said otherwise.
The lawyer ignored remarks made in the previous two investigations that Andújar is an official who works 24 hours a day and can take the vehicle to his house. Andújar said he has not used his vehicle for personal matters.
The Rodríguez report said that when Andújar goes to lunch in his public vehicle, “he is not in his working hours,” and “in the absence of UPR regulations on the use of vehicles by chancellors, he must follow a 2014 law on the use of public vehicles,” Valentín said. “That means that if he is in San Juan, he must return the car to Arecibo to have lunch and then go back to San Juan. That is ridiculous, in my opinion.”
The 2014 law is for public agencies and there are questions as to whether it applies to UPR chancellors.