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NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD

NSB Field Hearing

EDUCATION ON THE ROAD TO EXCELLENCE
All One System
University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras
October 7, 1998

(Note: "The Exhibits" cited here are available only in hard copy.)

Dr. Norman Maldonado
Mr. Fred Martinez
Dr. Manuel Gomez
Keynote Address Dr. Maldonado:

Muy buenos días. Good morning. Thank you, Dr. Kelly, distinguished members of the Board, distinguished participants, guests to this activity. It is truly an honor to have the National Science Board with us this morning.

The University of Puerto Rico is an institution in transition. It is going to be a centennial institution in a few years, and now is in the process of change. In the last four years we have increased our student body by 15,000 students. We came up from 53,000 students to close to the 70,000 that we have at the present time.

Originally a teaching institution, mainly having excellent baccalaureate students, it began to change in 1985 to a teaching-research institution where we have more PhD graduates, where research is already an accepted term in an institution which was not considered very important originally, and we look at the future when we can be called a teaching-research institution. We still want to maintain the teaching component as one that is very important because that is our strength, and we hope that we can help in the technology transfer to and strategic alliances with industry, as you will see in today's presentations.

UPR was founded in 1903 as a teachers' college like many land grant institutions, and in 1913 the Mayagüez Campus was created as an agricultural engineering school just like many other state institutions. Since its foundation we have graduated around 300,000 students in all fields at the bachelors and masters levels. In 1950, our medical school began, then the dental school, and gradually we went into PhD's programs, especially the chemistry PhD program on the Rio Piedras campus that has graduated over a 100 PhDs already.

Fifteen thousand of our students are in science and engineering fields, which is close to 21 percent of our overall enrollment. Our faculty is around 4500, and in science and engineering over 80 percent are PhDs, and a good number of them are active researchers. Our student faculty ratio is sixteen to one, which is comparable to other state institutions.

Our annual budget is in the vicinity of $900 million, which is less than it should be for the size of our student body and our complexity. But we have a favorable formula from our government where 9.6 percent of the revenues of the Commonwealth go to the University of Puerto Rico, so we don't have to negotiate every year with the Legislature. Once in a while we get a few extra dollars from contracts and other activities.

Over $150 billion of the budget come from competitive grants and contracts, which you are going to see is an increase in the last few years. We hope to do even better. The National Science Foundation is one of those institutions that have helped us tremendously in this endeavor.

At present the University is graduating close to 9000 students per year. Last year we had a 10 percent increase in our graduation rate, and this was a reflection of our increased student body. This will increase even further in the years to come. Of course, we graduated among others, masters, PhDs, MDs, lawyers, architects, and engineers, which is one of our largest classes.

We have 445 different academic programs. Some are duplicated on the eleven campuses throughout the island. We also have 14 PhD programs, ten of them in the area of sciences and engineering. UPR graduates 20 percent of all Hispanic BS recipients in the nation in natural sciences and engineering. And our engineering school is one of the largest with 4400 students in our engineering class. We graduate close to 700 engineers every year.

We have been working on "systemic reform." The president of UPR's board, Mr. Fred Martínez, from whom you will hear in a moment, has been instrumental in our reform. We use total quality management, re-engineering of administrative processes, and a strategic plan that took us two years to develop and that we are firmly committed to it. Using technology and electronic communications, we want to achieve academic and research excellence, increasing our attention to student programs, curricular review, and the professional development of our faculty.

Increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the teaching-learning process has been one of our main goals. Our undergraduate graduation rates in many areas, especially in the sciences, math, and engineering have increased from the 48 percent in 1992 to 61 percent in 1996. For example, in engineering we went up from 52 percent to 76 percent. In other biological science area we have increased 10-20 percent in different campuses across the University.

The University of Puerto Rico is the primary source for Hispanic science, math, engineering PhDs in the nation. Fifteen percent of all Hispanics who earn PhDs received their baccalaureate from UPR, mostly on the Rio Piedras campus with Mayaguez number two, between 1992 and 1996. One of every ten of our graduates in the sciences goes on to a PhD. We doubled the number of PhDs from last year to this year, graduating over sixty.

The government of Puerto Rico approved a science and technology policy in 1996 promoted by some of us at the University, which our Board of Trustees approved in 1997. Science and technology have become a priority for Puerto Rico not only in resources, but in the construction of new facilities.

In 1985, we began with funds from the different national organizations, like NSF, DOE, DOD, NASA and EPA. The experimental program EPSCoR that you all know so well has funneled monies to our researchers, 120 of whom today carry out what we feel is cutting edge research in different areas.

One of the areas that we are interested in developing is computers. We have developed a local network, called "PRDVnet" for Puerto Rico Data Video Network, that links all the campuses of the University of Puerto Rico. Within the last couple of years we have placed lines for communication with the mainland as well as Caribbean and Latin American countries. We probably are the last members of the new club of Internet II, and we hope somebody helps us to pay the bills.

Through our long distance learning links we have access to many government agencies, including the Weather Bureau for telling us about hurricanes. HETS, the Hispanic Education Telecommunication System, is part of this network. It includes many institutions on the mainland. Thirteen institutions are part of this virtual university, including the University of New Mexico that is a partner with us in this endeavor.

For the future, we hope UPR will become a research-funded institution while sustaining the strength of the teaching institution we want to continue to be. Strong partnerships and vector organization through our alliances with stateside and international universities, national laboratories, and the industrial sector are part of our plan to become more competitive. We have with us today representatives of two of those universities, Rutgers University and University of Kentucky, and we have a strong partnership with industry, from which you will hear later.

The University of Puerto Rico will be a lead institution for the Puerto Rico Science and Technology Policy. It will play a key role in industrially relevant Research and Development and technology transfer of our island. We're working very hard now with the Science and Technology Board of the Governor in developing a strategic plan for Puerto Rico where the University plays the most important role, also in partnership with private universities in Puerto Rico that don't have the same resources that we have, but can contribute to this endeavor.

We want to build stronger partnerships with the industrial sector through the concept of "incubators." Joint research with industry will help us change the climate of research in Puerto Rico. The co-sponsoring of UPR - the multi-campus, multi-disciplinary research and development centers - will help us develop new technologies. We want to develop a strong distant learning component, both Internet and television. Through partnership with the Department of Education and the school-to-work program, where the University of Puerto Rico is deeply involved serving K-12education, we want to develop an agile and responsive academic management structure that will lead the social, cultural and economic development of Puerto Rico and the nation. Thank you very much.

It's a pleasure to introduce the chairman of our Board of Trustees, the person who has been instrumental in helping us develop this plan and this transition in the University of Puerto Rico. He's a lawyer, but we don't hold that against him . . . Mr. Fred Martínez.

Mr. Martinez:

Thank you very much, Norman, and welcome ladies and gentlemen from the National Science Board to the state university of Puerto Rico.

Being chairman of the board grants me some few, yet somewhat rather extraordinary privileges such as coming in late for your meeting this morning. I left my house with plenty of time, but I never foresaw the fact that this being a post-hurricane era, our traffic situation was such . . . so my apologies to all of you.

One of the other privileges that being chairman grants to me is to welcome you to Puerto Rico. We are pleased that you have chosen our university as your host for this most important field hearing of the National Science Board. We at UPR have had a long and positive relationship with the National Science Foundation, and your foresight in establishing the systemic initiatives in education and research have resulted in significant improvements in education and research in Puerto Rico's schools and higher education institutions throughout all of our island.

You've helped us to convert our dreams and our visions into operating programs with clear goals and objectives. And you also have helped us to develop and empower some very good people to lead reform initiatives island-wide. NSF programs in K-12 education, undergraduate education, and research and graduate education are an intrinsic part of our effort to develop a systemic economic plan for Puerto Rico under the government's new economic model. And under this plan, as chairman of the Board of Trustees of UPR, I have committed this university through university-wide science and technology policy, to focus resources on three major priorities.

At the K-12 level we will continue to grow and accelerate our educational reforms, and our initiatives in science and mathematics, reading and English proficiency. At the undergraduate level, UPR will collaborate with private institutions to better articulate our programs, provide more relevant experiences to our students, and continue to improve instructional quality in our graduation rates. Finally, at the research and graduate levels, we have set aggressive goals for R&D and are putting in place initiatives to meet these goals. We strive to be a contemporary research university, continuing a strong tradition in education and building upon our efforts under the EPSCoR initiative to develop excellence in selected areas and an effective technology transfer initiative to serve the needs of existing Puerto Rico business (as well as to stimulate new startup companies). These three goals are now being integrated into a comprehensive economic development plan under the guidance of the Puerto Rico Science and Technology policy, approved by our very visionary governor in 1996, that will align the island's education, research and technology transfer priorities with our economic opportunities and needs.

The National Science Foundation has been a critical friend to Puerto Rico over the last 15 years, and I look forward to continuing our relationship as we move on to the next era of development in Puerto Rico. We at UPR consider ourselves to be a national state-run university system. Together with the fine national private higher education institutions as well as the national state universities, we look forward to a partnership in assisting, not only the development here on this island, but also throughout our entire nation.

In closing, I wish to acknowledge the strong leadership, commitment to systemic approaches, and the unfailing dedication to excellence in implementing high quality programs by two very key individuals - my friend and president of the University of Puerto Rico, Dr. Norman Maldonado, and my other friend and the vice-president of the University, Dr. Manuel Gómez. To both of you gentlemen, congratulations. Through the NSF-UPR partnership we are making a difference. As we traverse into the new millennium, I'm certain that we can look back to what we are doing here today and be proud that we have made a difference together. Welcome to the UPR and thank you very much for your time and your consideration.

Dr. Manuel Gomez:

I have a very demanding task. I have to summarize 18 years of reform into about 15-20 minutes, and make it sound easy (with the help of slides). So I'm going to glaze over a lot of fundamental issues that I hope will be discussed during the hearing.

The three elements of a seamless K-16 system, which is the topic of these hearings, are based on visionary programs that were initiated by NSF - the Statewide Systemic Initiative (SSI), the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), and Alliances for Minority Participation (AMP). The sequence in Puerto Rico was EPSCoR, followed by AMP, and then SSI. So we went backwards, but that doesn't make any difference as long as you have the vision to put it all together.

I want to tell you something about Puerto Rico, to make sure we have its proper context (slide 1). First, geography: we have 3435 miles, bigger than Rhode Island and Delaware, and 75 percent the size of Connecticut in area. Our population is 3.8 million of people, and that makes us a huge state. If we were to be a state, we'll be bigger than twenty-five states. That's actually one of our problems; we're so large that it makes a big political difference.

The economy: the GDP of Puerto Rico is $48 billion. We export $23.9 billion. We have a positive export ratio, exporting more than we import. Mostly because we are very strong in manufacturing, 41 percent of Puerto Rico is manufacturing, and the key industries for this meeting is pharmaceutical, electronics, and medical instruments. Together they are the core of our economic strength. Service makes up 48 percent.

Our K-12 system is huge - 800,000 students. The public system, which is run by the government, 620,000, is comparable to the L.A. Unified School District. So we're the second largest district in the Nation. Of the 1540 public schools, the Puerto Rico SSI is working hand-in-hand with the Department of Education in 400, about 25 percent of the schools. We also have 27 dissemination centers to distribute our reform throughout the island.

In our higher education system, we have 170,000 students enrolled between the private and public institutions, and that makes us the sixth highest rate of enrollment for college-age population in the world. The UPR system, as the President said, enrolls 41 percent. The rest are the private institutions, with Interamerican the largest private institution in the whole hemisphere.

In the area of science and mathematics, UPR graduated 2000, or 71 percent, of all the BS degrees in the island. The school of engineering is the ninth largest in the U.S., and the AMP alliance produces 90 percent of all SMET degrees on the island. So our impact is island-wide, systemic in the true sense.

We started in 1985 (slide 2). It is 1998 and we're thinking ahead. This is systemic thinking. The scale of time is represented here to remind you that it takes to make a difference.

In slide 3, consider what is meant by "systemic." There are the K-12, 13-16, and 16 plus stages of the system. Each one has to interact with government, and the organizational pressures force you to defend your turf rather than looking at the connections. The broken lines represent feedback - very low feedback - so you only get resources from the other level and keep going. Instead, we have to go from a vision of systemic reform to advocacy, articulation, and use of the vision. There is a need for a virtual organization. The argument is represented in slide 4. In this view of the system, there is a visionary board of trustees visionary that thinks about K-12, its partners, and acting as one seamless system.

How do we put this together? Normally there is not an advocate for that, which is the purpose of the virtual organization, created by NSF in 1980, as the Resource Center for Science and Engineering. You have to harvest all of the projects shown here to make a coherent whole. If you don't have an advocate to do that, it will not happen.

Slide 5 shows our portfolio of projects that allow us to cover K-12, undergraduate education, and research. Each one of these will be addressed by the other panels, so I will not elaborate further.

In the cycle for reform (slide 6) you start with a strategic plan, but you also need evaluation and institutional research to document your progress. Such documentation, however, is still not good enough. I have an accountability and allocation of resources process that feeds back to the strategic plan, and only then we have a rational management process for systemic reform. You need all those elements. Many places have one or the other, but not all three. Any one alone will not permit the cycle to be completed; the process will not be successful.

There is now a science and technology plan for the whole university (slide 7). It was approved by the Board unanimously, and it's crucial. One of the plan's objectives is to diversify our external funding portfolio, increase our competitive funds and not depend mainly on sheltered funds. The others are self-explanatory, for example, we have just revised all PhD programs to make them more effective, are developing mechanisms for technology transfer through EPSCoR, and using a competitive recruitment and retention process to build "star" quality faculty.

We decided to see how we were doing in scholarly peer review using the science citation index in a search of our database (slide 8). We discovered that in 1985 there were 154 peer reviewed publications at UPR. By 1992, the number was up to 228, and in 1997, 313. More important, the annual ratio of publication for active faculty went from 0.6 to 0.9, which is a significant increase. Now, we benchmark our indicators. We know the national average is about two publications per researcher, so we want to go up to 950 by doing two things - increasing the number of active researchers and making them more competitive.

These indicators will give you the drivers of reform. In 1985, we had $8 million for research in the whole university system (slide 9). By 1990, we had $17 million, and in 1995, $37 million. In 1997, the amount was $50 million. If we double every five years, why can't we keep doubling every five years? Anybody knows that you have to do special things to achieve such growth. You just can't double unless you change the system. I am Vice-President for Research and, like the President, I want to go up to $80 million by the year 2000, and then to $160 million five years later. That benchmark is very important for us. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has that kind of money for research, and that's our ambition; we want to be a Research 1 institution.

Slide 10 illustrates something that is a little complex. Here is the enrollment of UPR. It declined up to 1992 when President Maldonado decided that UPR could have more students. Since then, we have gone to an enrollment of 14,000. This is only SMET students. Now you ask how many have we graduated. I have shifted that curve by five years because it takes about five years to graduate a person. Notice that while enrollment was going down, graduations were going up. There's only way you can do that - by increasing the effectiveness and efficiency. And we are up to 2000 graduates in the period. We are committed, along with the private institutions, to reach 4000 graduates in the next four years. So this will supply Puerto Rico's key human resources. The problem is how we'll retain them in Puerto Rico.

The President referred to effectiveness and efficiency (slide 11), and you will hear from the Chancellor from the Humacao campus about how he did it. Graduation rates are important - if you don't measure something you don't change it (slide 12). Chancellor Marrero will make a case for that.

I just want to point out (slide 13) that on the Río Piedras campus approximately one of every ten students who earn a bachelor's in science finish a PhD. That puts us in the lead as a producer of Hispanic PhDs. But it's no longer just the one campus of UPR; the whole system in Puerto Rico is moving up (slide 14).

Slide 15 is "hot off the press" from Chemical & Engineering News of Aug. 3, 1998. The UPR-Río Piedras campus is among the top PhD universities in producing chemistry students who finish the PhD. One of our key benchmarks is Oberlin. But Oberlin is a small liberal arts college. We're doing things in a big university that Oberlin does, and has to do - undergraduate student research.

How do we get all that research to make a difference for the economic development of Puerto Rico? Dr. Bramwell will discuss this afternoon (but see slide 16). A more general question posed in this hearing by the National Science Board is: How can we transfer things? The usual argument I get is that Puerto Rico is different and that explains everything. My argument is, yes, tactics are idiosyncratic, unique to Puerto Rico. In my dealings with the university I have to understand the system, the departments, etc. A systemic vision must be there. Without it, that's the end of the game. But that vision must be harnessed, and that's the value of the virtual organization.

A holistic view of the system tells you that the major problem is the interaction among elements of the system (slide 17). To carry out the necessary institutional cultural transformation you cannot have business as usual. You have to change the culture. We're in business because our systems are dysfunctional in some sense. We offer a flexible and robust systemic strategic plan. If you make it rigid, it doesn't get you anywhere. A well-developed evaluation and institutional research program, which we pioneered, is needed so we know where we are, how much we have achieved, and what is not working. That means assessment, preferably self-assessment. AMP is an example of that. Also, many universities receive external funds, but they don't incorporate them as part of a portfolio that advances their institutional plan.

Making use of external funds is a catalyst for reform. There's a big discrepancy between the funds we get from NSF and other federal agencies and what it takes to change the system. If you don't see those funds as catalytic, you're not going to use them strategically to build for long run.

Finally, let me review some general strategies (slide 18). I already argued for the virtual organization as an agent of change to implement policies. Policies drive change; that's the top down approach. The Governor's Science and Technology Council was designed to direct technology policy. What we are doing is aligning policies. So our K-12 educational policies feature a clear partnership with the Department of Education and our Governor who is a reform education governor. And those policies have to have a bearing on the university and its management. Academic management is notorious for not being effective and efficient. The President has already described how we are working on that.

This is a two-pronged approach, bottom-up as well as top-down. We must develop a cadre of leaders that will promote change. This takes time. So does developing strong partnerships and strategic alliances. To learn to partner you have to learn to use a word that academicians are not good at, which is "negotiate." You have to negotiate and make transactions.

Develop a strong and robust evaluation, which I want to re-emphasize, to foster organizational and cultural transformation. This makes possible the integration of externally funded projects into the plan, the leveraging of resources and the agency's national standing. NSF is a good example: We get site-visited and we use what they tell us to move changes along here. That's collaborative, as sanctioned by the cooperative agreement as a new way of NSF management. It has been very successful and has helped us a lot, especially in scaling-up.

Most people forget about scaling-up. The magnitude of what you have to do cannot be tackled in one day. Our friends from the industry can tell you that. They cannot go into the market with a product without first taking certain steps. You design, experiment under controlled conditions, then scale up to do a pilot test, evaluate, and design strategies for the actual process of producing the product at a larger scale. Harnessing institutional resources, which must be much more plentiful than the catalytic funds, is needed for the work of reform. In the SSI's we miscalculated the magnitude of the challenge and didn't see the need for scaling up. Design strategies to nurture institutionalization, to make it part of the institution.

This may sound like a fairly easy list, but the implementation is a challenge that requires strategies and a guiding vision. Otherwise, the process becomes a figment instead of reality. What has been missing to strengthen the reform process are the feedbacks among the parts of the system (slide 19). What we need is building a knowledge economy. We need knowledge - about what's happening in K-12, about how EPSCoR anchors a science and technology policy for economic development, about catalyzing the system. That's systemic thinking. You have to see a very complex set of interactions, then nurture and cultivate them. That's the essence of what has made reform of S&T on Puerto Rico into a seamless approach. Thank you.


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