You Might Like
Seal of the University of Puerto Rico
Seal of the University of Puerto Rico

The University of Puerto Rico (in Spanish, Universidad de Puerto Rico, or UPR) is the main public university system of Puerto Rico and a government-owned corporation of Puerto Rico. The institution consists of 11 campuses and has approximately 58,000 students and 5,300 faculty members.[4] UPR has the largest and most diverse academic offerings in Puerto Rico, with 472 academic programs of which 32 lead to a doctorate.[5]


In 1900, at Fajardo, the Escuela Normal Industrial (normal school) was established as the first higher education center in Puerto Rico. Its initial enrollment was 20 students and 5 professors.[6] The following year it was moved to Río Piedras. On March 12, 1903, the legislature authorized founding of the University of Puerto Rico, and that day the "Escuela Normal" was proclaimed as its first department.

1908 - The Morrill-Nelson Act is extended to Puerto Rico, making the University a "Land Grant College," which authorizes use of federal land to establish colleges of agriculture, science and engineering.

1910 - Establishment of the College of Liberal Arts.

1911 - Establishment of the College of Agriculture at Mayagüez. A year later the name was changed to College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.

1913 - The Departments of Pharmacy and Law were established.

1913 - University High School (UHS) is founded to provide clinical experience and supervised practice for teacher applicants, support staff and other teaching professionals.

1923 - The University Act of 1923- the University reorganized administratively it independent Insular Department of Education, provides the Board of Trustees as the governing board, and make the position of Rector as the principal officer. In 1924 the governor appointed the first Rector. The enrollment is 1,500 students.

1924 - The administrative structure and identity of the University of Puerto Rico is completely independent of the Department of Public Instruction.

1925 - Act 50 gave the UPR educational autonomy. This led to a total restructuring and the beginning of a period of rapid growth.

1926- The School of Commerce (later School of Business Administration) and the School of Tropical Medicine were established.

1927 - Opening of the first graduate program: the Master of Arts in Hispanic Studies.

1928 - The San Felipe Segundo hurricane struck the island of Puerto Rico and caused serious damage in the Río Piedras campus. Staff and faculty began a reconstruction effort.

1935 - The U.S. Congress extended to Puerto Rico the benefits of Bankhead-Jones Act, which provided funding for research and the construction of more buildings.

1936 - 1939 - Major structures in Spanish Renaissance style are built in the quadrangle in Río Piedras, including buildings such as the Tower Theatre and the University.

1938 - Augusto Rodríguez composed the music and lyrics Arriví Francisco's Alma Mater, the University anthem.

1939 - The "chime" mechanism was installed in the tower to play bells at the Río Piedras Campus.

1942 - Act No. 135 of May 7, 1942, amendment to the University, created the Higher Education Council as the governing board of the institution and regulator of the higher education system in Puerto Rico.

1943 - The university adopted the general education core courses modality.

1946 - The University received accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

1950 - Beginning of courses in the School of Medicine.

1966 - Act No. 1 of 1966, restructuring the university. The system becomes a three campuses-Río Piedras, Mayagüez and Medical Sciences, and a regional school management to group those that may be created in the future, under the direction of a President. Create a College Board with representation from the regional campuses and colleges, and renamed to the governing Council of Higher Education.

1967 - Creation of the regional colleges: Arecibo, Cayey and Humacao. Five more were created in the following years: Ponce (1969), Bayamón (1971), Aguadilla (1972), Carolina (1973), and Utuado (1978).

1979 - WRTU-FM began broadcasting from the Río Piedras campus.

1993 - Act No. 16 of June 6, 1993, divided the functions of the Council for Higher Education, assigning the functions of government at the University Board of Trustees to a newly created.

1998 - Act No. 186 of August 7, 1998, provides for the gradual autonomy of regional schools as provided by the Board of Trustees, to lead to eleven autonomous units.

In 2010 the Master Plan for the Río Piedras Campus was completed, to direct future growth for the largest campus in the system. It is expected to serve 27,000 students by 2020. The study reviewed existing facilities, identified attainable development scenarios, and provided phasing and implementation strategies. Planned new development includes a sports and recreation center; housing for 800 students; and academic and research facilities. The $700 million development plan is currently being implemented.[7]

The Master Plan for the Bayamón Campus addresses its pressing capital needs. Originally built as a campus of temporary structures to serve 2,500 students, today it serves more than 5,000 students, a figure expected to double by the year 2020. Much of the physical plant needs repair and replacement.[8]

In July 2010, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education placed the accreditation of the University on probation citing concerns about shortfalls in the governance of the institution.[9] By the end of 2011, all 11 campuses had regained full accreditation after demonstrating significant progress in this area.


The board of trustees is the governing body of the University of Puerto Rico. Its membership usually consists of private citizens who are supposed to represent the public interest, faculty members, student representatives, and may or may not include an exofficio political officeholder (typically the Secretary of Education of Puerto Rico). This inconsistency happens as the board's structure changes whenever a political party gains power, usually every 4–8 years. Once both the governor and the legislature of Puerto Rico belong to the same party, one of the earliest laws amended is the one governing the university in order to change the board's composition. Once the new board is settled in, one of the very first acts enacted by the new board is to appoint a new university president. This constant back and forth effectively makes the university a highly politicized tool rather than a resource for the people of Puerto Rico, and, consequently, changes the vision, strategy, and plans of the university every 4–8 years according to the political party in power.

Of the different trustees, the governor is usually required to appoint eight trustees "for the public interest" with the advice and consent of the Senate. It is through these trustees, along with the incumbent political officeholder which serves as exofficio, the way in which the governor and the political party in power effectively control the state university. The faculty and student trustees are appointed by the community of the university system. Two of the "public interest trustees" are appointed to nine-year terms, another two are appointed to seven-year terms, and the remaining four are appointed to five-year terms. The faculty and student trustees serve one-year terms. Trustees "representing the public interest" may be reappointed to additional terms as long as the total time served does not exceed eight years. Trustees representing faculty or students may be reappointed to additional terms as long as they remain being a faculty or student within the system while serving.

The last structural change to the board occurred in April 30, 2013 after governor Alejandro García Padilla enacted Act 13 of 2014 [32] together with the 17th Legislative Assembly. The act effectively replaced the incumbent board with an entirely new board, as follows:

UPR broadcasts both in FM (to some areas) and online. The campus radio station is called "WRTU Radio Universidad de Puerto Rico", and it was established in 1980. This is a public radio station with diverse musical and news programming.[11]


UPR has the highest selectivity index of all colleges and universities in Puerto Rico, it has also maintained a systemwide admission rate of 67% since 1997. Its enrollment rate has surpassed 90% during the past five academic years.[12] In terms of tuition, the cost per credit is US$124 per undergraduate credit and $300 per graduate credit.


On October 15, 2010 the university was awarded over $25 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research in nanotechnology. The organization within the University of Puerto Rico impacted is called Puerto Rico EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research). Since its creation 24 years ago, Puerto Rico EPSCoR has received over $180 million from NSF, NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of Defense.[13]

Rankings and notable facts

The University of Puerto Rico:

  • conducts more than 80% of all post-secondary research on the island
  • graduates the largest number of Hispanic engineers under the US flag
  • graduates the largest number of chemical engineers under the US flag
  • graduates the second largest number of female engineers under the US flag
  • owns the largest number of patents by a university on the island
  • has the largest enrollment on the island and one of the largest under the U.S. flag
  • has the largest faculty body on the island and one of the largest in the United States
  • offers the largest variety of academic programs on the island
  • offers the largest number of doctoral programs on the island
  • confers the largest number of post-secondary degrees on the island
  • has graduated six out of ten governors of Puerto Rico.

The University of Puerto Rico placed in the 800-1000 bracket in the 2018 edition of QS World University rankings, and was ranked 42nd in Latin America.[17] Times Higher Education also ranks it in the 801-1000 bracket in the world.[18] UPR was ranked among the best 20 universities in Latin America by SCImago ranking in 2010.[19] The University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras ranked 81st and University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez ranked 73rd in Top Latin America by Webometrics.[20]

The system's only school of engineering at the Mayagüez campus is accredit by ABET and graduates more than 600 engineers per year. The school was chosen as the top engineering school for Hispanics by Hispanic Engineer & Information Technology Magazine.[21]

Puerto Rico has a large pool of engineering students. In October 2002, UPR's job fair had a record-setting number of companies and federal agencies recruiting engineers: 74. The list included Motorola, Raytheon Systems, IBM, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Geological Survey.[22]

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.[23]

Alumni Association

  • Association of the University of Puerto Rico Alumni and Friends Abroad (UPRAA)[24]

Notable alumni

See also

You Might Like