UPRM-NSF Situation

“The University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) graduates the best students in the whole country (referring to the United States), despite the fact that a high school in the US is the same size, they just simply have the brightest graduates of all,” said a Boeing recruiter a few years ago. The prestige that the UPRM has before the companies out of the Puerto Rico is just invaluable, thanks to the outstanding research and investigations that happen in campus[JG1] . But all of this research is greatly funded by outside organizations, which invest in the university so that students could participle in different projects of their career.

But these funds have been put in great danger since April 2012, due to the suspension of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funds on all current investigations and complete refusal to accept any new proposals. This is a delicate situation that has been affecting the university since 2010, because of different misguided economic decisions the administration has done. That unfortunately ended with the suspension of these funds and putting at risk many others from other organizations. Since a few years ago the UPR has been going through a difficult financial crisis that has been handled by a series of different process and decisions that don’t necessary lead to the best of the university and letting aside some issues of great importance[JG2] . The main reason for the suspension been held is because the UPR administration is supposed to submit a series of statements required by the federal regulations, since 2010 the administration have failed to deliver those statements.

After a few months of investigation under the NSF all the funds had been suspended and a series of recommendations where made to the UPR so they could make some changes to fulfill the requirements. These observations and requirements can be found in a letter sent from the NSF in the following link http://uprm.info/nsf/?p=24. In resume, the NSF made eight recommendations divided in: general management, accounting system and financial review, FRR reconciliation, time and effort reporting, ARRA funding, cost sharing and subawards and subrecipient monitoring.

Since April 23, 2012 all 21 projects been held at the UPRM and other campuses of the UPR had been suspended by the NSF (http://academic.uprm.edu/), leaving a $20 million dollars in loses in research valuables to the investigations. At the moment the UPRM administration has completed all the requirements made by the NSF, but the funds are still suspended because some observations in the UPR administration had not been corrected.

 

February 12, 2013. Press conference held at  UPRM

February 12, 2013. Press conference held at UPRM

“I want to emphasize that losing the support of the NSF and other federal agencies would waste at least 30 years of development of our college,” said the Nelson Cardona Martinez, professor of chemical engineering (http://uprm.info/)

“It would affect me because I’m about to graduate and I would like to continue my graduate studies in the UPRM,” said an economics student from the UPRM, Cynthia Ramirez.

This situation put at risk not only the current investigations running at the campus, but future ones that can lead to new discoveries in science and opportunities for other students to gain experience in their graduate programs. The university’s prestige before companies and government agencies like Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, Product and Gamble, National Security Agency, NASA and many others is in jeopardy.

The NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants, and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the United States. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of federal support to academic institutions for basic research. NSF receives approximately 40,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships.


 

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