One Step Closer to Change

By Karla Marie Rodríguez Acosta

October 10th, the nominations for rector were made public by the institution of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. A few days later, the list of nominees who had accepted the candidateship for rectory was released to the public. Dr. Douglas Santos, from the Social Sciences Department, was among them.

After accepting his nomination, Dr. Santos made an appearance in the candidate forum held October 18th along with the rest of the candidates: Dr. Agustín Irizarry, Dr. Hector Huyke, Dr. Cecilio Ortiz, Dr. Jorge Schmidt and Dr. Jorge Rivera Santos. During the forum, the candidates got the opportunity to talk about their goals, their plan of action and about possible solutions to current problems the university is facing. They also got a chance to answer questions from both students and professors regarding said future plan of action if they should become the new rector of the university.

Dr. Douglas Santos in the Candidate Forum.

After a few hours of discussion, the polls show that Dr. Santos is one of the crowd’s favorites, coming in second place to Dr. Agustín Irizarry from the Engineering Department.

In a private interview held  October 21st in his old office at the Social Sciences Department, Dr. Santos got the opportunity to talk about more than just his goals should he be elected for rectory; he got a chance to talk about himself.

Dr. Santos is an UPRM alumnus and tenured professor who holds a doctoral degree in Academic-Investigative Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras. Dr. Santos has been a member of the UPR family for 25 years, and during that time, he has built up a name for himself.

In 1996, Dr. Santos returned to the UPRM to teach. At that time, Dr. Santos served as both a shaper of young minds, as well as an academic councilor and researcher. Dr. Santos also served as both interim and official Director of the Social Sciences Department, position he chose to cast aside after acquiring tenure in 2007. When he was asked if he would ever go back to teaching after serving his terms as rector, he said: “Absolutely. The rectory is a temporary position; my permanent position in the institution is as a professor and I will gladly go back to teaching after I’ve served my term. And when there’s a chance to do research, I will. And whenever I have a chance to involve students in research, I will, because that’s one of the areas, one of the things, that I am most passionate about.”

As previously stated, Dr. Santos is also a researcher who has led many successful investigations in his field. In 2009, Dr. Santos led an investigation called “PREPAS” that allowed him to understand the mental state of the new freshmen on campus with the objective of providing more effective help should the students require it.

As a specialist in academic investigation with several successful research projects under his belt, Dr. Santos managed to become the Director of the Center for Applied Social Investigation, or CISA, for its initials in Spanish.  As the Director of said center, he pioneered a program that will encourage and further undergraduate investigation focusing on sophomore and junior students of the Social Sciences Department. PAIS (Programa de Adiestramiento de Investigación Subgraduada) currently counts with 5 research projects led by several professors from the Social Sciences Department, one of whom is Dr. Douglas Santos himself. When asked what would happen to the project should he be elected, he said that although unfortunate, he would have to give it up and choose someone else to lead it. “That doesn’t mean that I cannot get involved in the program or pick up a phone to check how things are going,” he added, smiling. “Besides, we do research everyday and sometimes we don’t even realize it. We do research so that we know how to handle certain situations, to solve problems. My work as a researcher is certainly not done. There will always be opportunities for investigation, and when I can take them on, I will.”

Dr. Santos also spoke very highly of his fellow candidates Dr. Huyke, Dr. Irizarry, Dr. Schmidt and Dr. Ortiz. “These are excellent people who are just trying to get one step closer to change. We have talked about it, and we have an understanding. If one of us wins, we’ll be there to support the person,” he assured.

Dr. Douglas Santos in a meeting with the undergraduate researchers of PAIS.

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