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Ex-UPR president sues school’s Board of Governors, others, for $5M

Former University of Puerto Rico President Jorge Haddock and his wife, María A. Haddock, filed a lawsuit against the university’s Board of Governors, and other defendants with ties to the college, seeking nearly $5 million in compensation for early termination of his contract, and damages.

The lawsuit filed at the US District Court for Puerto Rico names UPR Board Members Emilio Colón-Beltran, Mayda Velasco-Bonilla, and Walter Alomar-Jiménez, current UPR Interim President Mayra Olavarría-Cruz, and Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF, in Spanish) Executive Director Omar Marrero as defendants.

At the crux of the case are Haddock’s claims that when he took over the presidency of the UPR, his contract established that his appointment would be for a five-year minimum term. To take over the job, Haddock resigned his position as tenured professor at the University of Massachusetts, ended his consultancy practice, and moved to Puerto Rico to occupy the position.

His contract established that he could only be terminated early for specific reasons, that he would be given advanced notice and a hearing, among others. The agreement also granted Haddock and his wife the use of the residence of the president of the University in the Botanical Garden until the contract’s expiration on Sept. 3, 2023, or in lieu of that, that he would be paid the use value of that property.

In the lawsuit, Haddock claims he was fired as president because he did not yield to requests form Alomar and Marrero to remove different people from positions within the board and administrative and academic positions and replace them with people with close ties to the governing New Progressive Party (PNP, in Spanish).

Haddock claims in the suit that he also refused to award contracts to PNP loyalists, as he was asked to do by Alomar and other party members.

According to Haddock’s contract, his performance was to be evaluated every year before July 31, after which the Board of Governors would prepare a report and provide it to him. He would have 15 days to respond to the report. He was also to be evaluated periodically.

His last day on the job was July 31, 2021, after being notified in writing on July 2 that he was no longer wanted for the job.

“When the letter was written on July 2, 2021, the Board of Governors had not been duly convened to discuss the termination of Haddock as president, the Board had not voted to terminate Haddock as president of the University, the Board had not prepared a report with the evaluation of Haddock’s performance, and the Board had not discussed such evaluation with Haddock, as required by Section 14th of the contract,” the lawsuit states.

“Haddock had a legitimate expectation that decisions concerning his tenure as president would be based on merit, that his contract would not be terminated unless such action was based on deficiencies in his performance, reflected in a written report provided to him, and that he would have an opportunity to discuss and address any such alleged deficiencies,” the lawsuit further stated.

The lawsuit lists several causes of action, against different defendants. It also lists the reasons for the action — loss of income during the two years remaining in the contract, the use value of the residence set at $60,000, “compensation for loss of future income as a result of the stigma suffered from being fired as president of the University,” “emotional pain and suffering for being fired as president of the University without cause and without the opportunity for a hearing,” and attorney fees.

The plaintiffs are seeking a trial by jury.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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