Only 2 senators so far take action on scholarship funding shortage

Education is the first-ranked priority among voters every election; and, every election, Guam’s politicians promise to fund education as the priority of government. Recently, Kandit exposed a notice from an overpaid University of Guam bureaucrat to recipients of the UOG Regent Scholarship that funding for the merit-based awards is running out, and the scholarship will not be available next month. We sent the notice to all 15 senators of the Guam Legislature.

Only two senators have cared enough about funding the education of struggling student scholars to do anything about it.

The first is Speaker Therese Terlaje, who provided Kandit the following response, which we provide in its entirety:

“In this year’s budget, I passed an amendment to prioritize scholarships required by law because we had found that UOG was not fully funding scholarships for nurses, doctors, and for all priority areas that are already outlined in statute. The lack of funding for priority scholarships was contributing to the lack of teachers, nurses, and other critical employees so we restored these priorities and directed UOG to identify alternative funds for its other discretionary scholarships being issued by the Board of Regents or President outside of the statutory priority areas. For example, you can see from the attached report that there were forty-four (44) athletic scholarships granted in FY2020 and one (1) new teaching scholarship (YEC).

“In addition, because of the shortage of teachers and nurses, we passed a floor amendment to increase the scholarship appropriation for UOG by an additional $500,000 in FY 2022 over the FY 2021 scholarship amount.  UOG Regents and President must fund any additional non-statutory discretionary awards like athletic scholarships from its operations (personnel) budget or other funding.

“During budget, I also proffered an amendment that would prohibit UOG from using the appropriated scholarship funds for administrative fees (personnel costs for the Financial Assistance Office) estimated at approximately $400,000. That portion of the amendment was amended by Senator Shelton to allow up to 10% for administrative costs, which I opposed.”

While Sen. Amanda Shelton did not respond to Kandit’s inquiry, she did email UOG’s Vice President, Dr. Anita Borja Enriquez, on December 6, asking about UOG’s plans to defund the scholarship.

“As you and I have discussed,” Ms. Shelton’s email states, “I urge the administration to consider any discontinuation of scholarship funding for students as a last resort. I continue to ask the University administration to prioritize student scholarships and financial aid by funding the Regent Scholarship, and at the very least, fund the scholarships of existing Regent Scholars.”

Kandit has sent a request to Dr. Enriquez for copies of all email correspondence resulting and branching from Shelton’s December 6 email to see how the senator’s email has stimulated any action in favor of students. UOG very likely will take all four business days allowable by law to disclose the documents.

As has been the culture of arrogance at UOG – one of the nation’s most dependent public universities on tax funding per capita – university officials have decided to defund scholarships for students while handing out pay raises to non-faculty administrators. And only two senators so far are doing anything about it.

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