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Founded in 1903, the University of Puerto Rico (Universidad de Puerto Rico in Spanish, UPR) is the oldest and largest university system in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and the University of Puerto Rico is a Land Grant University. The university is accredited by the Middle States Association. The UPR is a system of 11 campuses, which includes 3 Research Intensive campuses (Carnegie classification). The system has approximately 64,511 students (approximately 57,558 of which are undergraduates) and a faculty of 5,300.


In 1900, at Fajardomarker, the "Escuela Normal Industrial" was established as the first higher education center in Puerto Rico. Its initial enrollment was only 20 students and 5 professors. The following year it was moved to Rio Piedras. On March 12, 1903, a law was passed which officially created the University of Puerto Rico. That same day, the "Escuela Normal" was proclaimed as the first department of the University of Puerto Rico.

In 1908, the United States government extended financial aid to the University of Puerto Rico as part of the Morill Act, thus making UPR a land-grant university. From these new funds, another campus, "El Colegio de Agricultura," was established in 1911 at Mayagüezmarker. One year later, its name was changed to College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts or "Colegio de Agricultura y Artes Mecánicas" (CAAM).

The expansion continued through the 1950s when many programs flourished in the University. The College of Arts and Sciences and the Nuclear Center were established in Mayagüez. The Colleges of Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Business Administration emerged in Río Piedras. The Schools of Medicine, Odontology, and Tropical Medicine were established in San Juanmarker.

[[File:LaUniversidad.JPG|thumb|Aerial view of the Río Piedras Campusmarker]]On January 20, 1966, then Governor Roberto Sánchez Vilella signed a law which reorganized the University of Puerto Rico. The most important changes were:
  • Granting complete autonomy to the School of Medicine, which became the Medical Sciences campus.
  • Granting complete autonomy to the Mayagüez and Río Piedras campuses. The former was renamed the "Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez" (RUM), a name it keeps to this day. Today, the RUM is well known for its excellent Engineering and Science programs. The Rio Piedras campus is best known for Social and Humanities studies, as well as strong science and business departments. The Rio Piedras Campus has a strong emphasis on doctoral level programs. The University of Puerto Rico Law School is the oldest in Puerto Rico.
  • Establishing three regional colleges at Arecibo, Cayeymarker, and Humacaomarker.
  • In 1969, the regional college at Cayey became an official campus. It was granted complete autonomy in 1982.
  • In 1969, the regional college at Poncemarker was inaugurated.
  • In 1970, the regional college at Bayamón was inaugurated.
  • In 1972, the regional college at Aguadillamarker was inaugurated.
  • In 1973, the regional college at Carolina was inaugurated.
  • In 1978, the regional college at Utuado was inaugurated.

In 1993, legislation was approved to create a Board of Trustees for UPR that would take on the duties of university governance that were previously performed by the Council on Higher Education, which remains the top regulatory body for all public and private universities in Puerto Rico.

UPR's student body has grown from 173 at its founding in 1903 to over 70,000 today. These students are served by 5,300 professors and 14,000 non-teaching staff at eleven campuses throughout Puerto Rico.



The University of Puerto Rico is a well-established and mature institution, with a total enrollment of over 65,000 students. The University consists of the Mayagüez Campus, the Medical Sciences Campus, and the Río Piedras Campus, which are dedicated to both undergraduate and graduate education; and the Colleges at Aguadilla, Arecibo, Bayamón, Carolina, Cayey, Humacao, Ponce, and Utuado which provide undergraduate education. Each autonomous institutional unit has a Chancellor as chief administrator and academic officer.

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is the governing body of the University of Puerto Rico. Its membership consists of ten private citizens who represent the public interest in higher education, two faculty members, and a student representative. The Governor of Puerto Rico, with the advice and consent of the Senate of Puerto Rico, appoints the lay representatives. The faculty and student representatives are elected from among the non-university administration members of the University Board. Five of the public interest members are appointed to eight-year terms, three members to six-year terms, and the remaining two members to four-year terms. The faculty and student representatives serve a one-year term. Members representing the public interest may be reappointed to additional terms as long as the total time served does not exceed eight years.

The Board of Trustees elects its president from among its members. It is responsible for examining and reviewing the budgetary and institutional development plans of the University, authorizing the institution of new campus, centers, and other institutional units, appointing the President and chancellors of each autonomous unit, defining rights and duties of various constituents in the institutional community, defining student financial aid standards, preparing an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature on the state of the University of Puerto Rico.


The President of the University, the chief executive officer of the University system, is appointed to an indefinite term by the Board of Trustees. Subject to the approval of the Board, he appoints chancellors to the various campuses and colleges. The President represents the University on corporate matters before courts and government agencies. He acts as an ex-officio member of all the UPR faculties, academic senates, and administrative boards.The President is responsible for submitting an annual budget, an annual report, the institutional development plan and its revisions, regulations, contracts, and agreements which require university approval. He develops and maintains relationships with other cultural and educational institutions.

University Board

The University Board is constituted by the President of the University, eleven chancellors representing each autonomous institutional unit, a financial director, three additional members appointed by the President with the approval of the Board of Trustees, one faculty representative from each Academic Senate and one student representative from each unit.

The Board is responsible for the preparation of the following documents: general bylaws of the University, general bylaws of the student body university’s, strategic plan with recommendations from the Academic Senates. These documents are submitted to the President and to the Board of Trustees for their consideration and approval. The Board also considers the integrated university budget, and it is the first avenue of appeals against any decision taken by the Administrative Board or the Academic Senate of an autonomous unit.


During the last 5 years (2004-2008) the UPR has conferred 46,987 academic degrees

In the areas of science, engineering and technology, crucial for the economic development of Puerto Rico, the number of degrees conferred averages 38% per year

UPR graduate programs are developing very quickly: they conferred 380 PhD's in the last 5 years (47% in science and technology).

The UPR contributes with over 16% of all degrees awarded to Hispanics in the US in Science and Technology

In 2005-2006, the UPR School of Engineering ranks 1st graduating chemical engineers in the US; 1st graduating Hispanics, and second graduating women.

In 2007, the American Society of Engineering Education acknowledged that the UPR school of Engineering ranks among the 20 largest engineering programs.

In 2005-2006, the UPR Río Piedras Campus ranked 4th among the top 25 institutions selected for federal support in chemical research equipment.

Research activity, measured in terms of external funds received, has grown exponentially since 1985, doubling every five years. In 2007-2008, the UPR received over $87 million for research

UPR Presidents

UPR logo
President Years
Prof. Jaime Benitez 1966-1971
Dr. Amador Cobas 1971-1973
Dr. Arturo Morales Carrion 1973-1977
Dr. Ismael Almodovar 1977-1985
Lic. Fernando Agrait 1985-1987
Dr. Jose M. Saldana 1987-1993
Dr. Norman Maldonado 1993-2001
Prof. Antonio García Padilla 2001-2009
Dr. Miguel A. Muñoz 2009-(interim)


Campus radio

UPR broadcasts an FM (to some areas) and online campus radio called "WRTUmarker Radio Universidad de Puerto Rico", established in 1980. This is a Public Radio Station with a diverse musical and news programming.

Notable alumni

Notes and references

  2. Historia de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. 2008-04-30.
  4. Radio Universidad de Puerto Rico

External links

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