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Oficina de Rectoría

March 17, 2019

Dear Ms. Jaresko,


The following serves as an institutional response to your letter dated March 16, 2019. In all honesty,
the high administration of the Conservatory of Music cannot inform the FOMB about the referred
proposal for consolidation or reorganization (with the SPAD) or the status of any legislation vis-à-
vis this process, primarily, because no one in the Conservatory knows about—or favors—this
proposal. In this context, one would expect that both academic communities (let alone their
executive directors and board members) would have been consulted before envisioning or
approving this consolidation proposal—particularly when one of the institutions (PRCM) is in the
middle of its accreditation review with the MSCHE (Spring 2020).
A consolidation process is regarded, by the U.S. Department of Education and our two accreditation
agencies (MSCHE and NASM), as a substantive change. Substantive change procedures not only cost
money (and are, as it should be, an exhaustive and demanding process), but also require approval
prior to implementation. As noted by the MSCHE, failure to obtain prior approval from the Commission for
substantive changes jeopardizes the institution’s accreditations status and may negatively affect the institution’s Title
IV funding or eligibility. Furthermore, a consolidation process without performing the proper due
diligence of consulting the institutional groups of interest might well collide with the specific criteria
of some of the Standards of Accreditation. Needless to say, there are plenty of examples of
unsuccessful consolidations and absorptions in the United States and Europe (especially since the
2000s) that failed to produce projected saving targets, but also generated an extremely tense
atmosphere between the state and the academic communities (faculty, administrators, students,
donors and alumni).
The consolidation of these institutions—which, in this case, seems to be based on insufficient
research and planning (quite frankly, I resist to believe that we are dealing with a perilous disregard
for the principles that guide academic institutions)—would affect everything from restructuring its
institutional laws and missions to merging two specialized universities with disparate budgetary
patterns, fiscal capacities, and sources of revenue and expenditure. In the context of the PRCM (a
specialized university that, as of today, complies with all the Requirements of Affiliation and
Standards of Accreditation of MSCHE), the Commission states the following: “The PRCM has
provided information that shows sound fiscal strategies during the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma
and Maria and the budgetary difficulties endured by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. From the
information provided, the institution appears to be in good financial position despite a reduction in
the appropriations received from the state. The PRCM administration has a positive fund balance
and no debt and is looking for new streams of revenue in the future” (MSCHE’s Team Report;
September 11, 2018).
In the opinion of the high administration of the Conservatory, this consolidation (that, from an
economic standpoint “barely counts,” to quote a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article about
college mergers, “as a drop in the fiscal ocean”) could potentially put in danger two of the most
prestigious and accredited art schools in Latin America and the East Coast of the United States. As
someone who has lived half of his life associated with the Conservatory (as a student, instructor,
tenured professor, member of various committees, Chair of Department, and Chancellor), I urgently
implore the relevant authorities to reconsider this ill-conceived proposal. At this juncture, I have no
other option but to defend the autonomy of the Conservatory of Music in every forum (an
institution that this year celebrates its 60th anniversary), even if this decision leads to my resignation
or dismissal from the post of Chancellor.

Sincerely,

Dr. Pedro I. Segarra Sisamone


Chancellor and Executive Director—Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music

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