The UPR faces a tradeoff between education and moral

By: Angélica Ortiz Blanco

The most prestigious university system in Puerto Rico, the UPR, has been the center of a polemic during the past months. The university’s stringent measures to make decisions have been compromised by the influence of politics in the country and this has caused serious a dilemma that threatens the university’s prestige.

One of the most notorious cases is the hiring of Ricky Rosselló in the UPR-Ciencias Médicas campus. This controversial news captured all of the country media for several months. Some people agreed with the decision while others refused to accept it.

Ricky Rosselló has a chemical engineering B.S. and a bioengineering Ph.D. and is the son of the ex-governor of Puerto Rico, Dr. Pedro Rosselló.

The announcement of his hiring created an uproar among certain university sectors that claims that preferential treatment has been given to him at the same time that some faculty positions have been “frozen” due to the fiscal crisis experienced by the institution.

Interviews conducted with the students of the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez reveal the general disappointment among the collegiate. “It is a bad decision because there are professors waiting for a job and just because he is the son of the ex-governor they hired him” said Omar Palermo, a Hispanic studies major.  “It is a negative image to the university, I think they must hire professors because of their merits and not their social position” added the student from Cabo Rojo.

Others like Omayra Ramírez, a Biology major, were oblivious to the issue. “It won’t affect me directly or indirectly so I don’t really mind where he ends up working but if he has the requirements why not hire him? He’s not the first person who gets a job because of family influence,” said the senior student from San Germán.

Regardless of whether people agree or not with the Rosselló’s hiring, he is already hired and even the president of the UPR defended him. “The academic record and area of expertise of Dr. Rosselló Nevares in generation of regenerative stem cells of the skin will strengthen teaching and the offers of academic courses in that subject in Puerto Rico” said the president in a (Telemundo interview).

Ricky Rosselló is very active in politics in the country, it’s rumored he will be running for governor for the New Progressive Party in 2016. (Photo Credit: http://www.primerahora.com/rickyrosselloculpaalelaporexodoboricua-705665.html)

Ricky Rosselló is very active in politics in the country, it’s rumored he will be running for governor for the New Progressive Party in 2016. (Photo Credit: http://www.primerahora.com/rickyrosselloculpaalelaporexodoboricua-705665.html)

Equally important for the UPR’s reputation is the case of Dr. Iván Ríos Hernández, who was accused of plagiarism by the Venezuelan publicist Janet Marilyn and the Cuban psychologist Sergio A. Pérez Barrero.

Iván Ríos Hernández was an assistant professor and public relations officer at the UPR-Carolina campus. He plagiarized the doctoral thesis of Janet Marilyn and she found out while doing a research on internet about her same work.

Janet Marilyn published in her personal blog the pictures of her doctoral thesis and compared them with the pictures of “Ríos Hernández’s article” and it was this way how she got the attention of the country media because every other attempt to reach the professor or the campus authorities failed.

Right after the news was made public Rios Hernandez’s students wrote a letter addressed to authorities of UPR-Carolina signed by 27 students. “In this situation, we feel that is not proper that Ríos Hernández continue to be in charge of our education” reads the letter. “It’s a shame for us; the UPR is distinguished by its professionalism and its responsible students and teachers. It is a very sad incident,” said Wilfredo Colón, one of the professor’s students to El Nuevo Día on September 20,2012.

Trinidad Fernández, the Chancellor of the campus seemed unconcerned. “I will strictly confine to the regulations of the university as determined by the investigative report” said Fernández to El Vocero on September 19, 2012 as she stated that she will not take action or fire the professor until the investigation process ended.

Repudiation of this professor’s act of plagiarism was unanimous among the students interviewed at UPRM.

“This is a very bad situation for the UPR, it’s not fair that he is not being penalized for this when others has been penalized in the past. They have to fire him in order to follow the university rules and the rector needs to be fired too because she is not doing her job right” said José Blanco, a Nursery major from Lajas.

These situations, among others, have been compromising the image of the university for the past months and affecting the way other people evaluate the UPR system.

Dr. Iván Ríos Hernández also plagiarized a Cuban psychologist work about suicide. (Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/ivanrioshernandez.pr)

Dr. Iván Ríos Hernández also plagiarized a Cuban psychologist work about suicide. (Photo Credit: http://www.facebook.com/ivanrioshernandez.pr)

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