A member of the University of Guam Board of Regents does not live on Guam, and UOG is not responding to Kandit’s phone calls to see whether the board will comply with the law and vacate her tenure.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero appointed Bernadette “Bernie” Valencia as a regent early last year, prior to Ms. Valencia accepting a promotion at Matson Navigation. Ms. Valencia – at the time of her appointment – was in charge of the Guam operation. She since has moved to Hawaii to be an executive in the company’s headquarters.
According to §16106 of the charter of the university, which is part of Guam law, “Any member who removes his residence from Guam shall be deemed to have vacated his office, thereby creating a vacancy on the Board.”
Calls and messages to the university’s office responsible for board matters have not been returned.
UOG has been ridden with scandal for years, but has escaped legislative oversight under Sen. Amanda Shelton, whose committee in the legislature includes UOG matters. Among the scandals have been a concerted effort by officials to cover up crimes by a psychology professor later convicted of sex crimes, a credit card spending spree on personal items and services, and pay raises to administrators during the pandemic (while classes were shut down) and amid calls for tuition increases. The latest scandal involved the punishment of Dr. Ron McNinch for sending two emails prior to the general election last November that were critical of the governor.
Dr. McNinch appealed the punishment to the board of regents. About two weeks ago, the board decided to keep the reprimand against Dr. McNinch, with some regents qualifying their decision based on their belief that criticizing the governor was unprofessional and unbecoming of a university employee.
Among those were Ms. Valencia, who said, “The emails discussed certainly are not what I would expect of a university faculty member. These emails are not from someone who I would consider a role model, a leader, or a professional; certainly not representative of an academic who thinks highly of himself or herself, or proud of his or her work. I would have expected professional conduct.”
Ms. Valencia made these comments remotely, as she was not on Guam for the board meeting.
Kandit reached out to UOG board liaison David Okada, who did not return our calls, to ask whether so-called professional conduct extends to the university following the law about the fundamental qualifications of regents, including the residency requirement.
Kandit also sought to ask the university whether there is a concern that its meetings and decisions, such as the decisions made against Dr. McNinch, are in danger of being nullified due to quorum and vote-threshold concerns in light of Ms. Valencia’s move to Hawaii.