MARINE EDUCATION PROGRAM
The Department of Marine Sciences (DMS) has its origins in the Institute of Marine Biology (IMB), founded on February 8, 1954 formerly associated with the Department of Biology of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Main offices of the IMB were located at a small building campus and laboratory facilities were established at Magueyes Island, La Parguera. At that time, the IMB shared the 18-acre island with the Puerto Rico Zoo. Modest research structures were built at Magueyes Island together with dormitory facilities for students and visiting scientists. A dock served the dual purpose of harboring the R/V CARITE and as support structure for marine cages pertaining to the zoo exhibition.
In June 1966, Prof. José E. Arrarás, then Chancellor of the Mayagüez Campus, known as the College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, requested of Dr. Maximo Cerame-Vivas, Associate Professor of the Department of Biology,UPRR, to prepare a proposal for the creation of a Department of Marine Sciences for the Mayagüez Campus. On June 18, 1966, Dr. Cerame-Vivas submitted a proposal entitled “The Development of Marine Studies in Puerto Rico for the next 25 years”. This document contained the justifications and expected benefits for the Institution and for the country by the establishment of a center for research and education in Marine Sciences. The proposal emphasized the potential of human and environmental resources of the island.
In January 1967, Dr. Cerame Vivas was appointed director of the Institute of Marine Biology with the task of organizing a Department of Marine Sciences. The Department of Marine Sciences was successfully instituted on August 19, 1968, by resolution of the Board of Higher Education (BHE) of Puerto Rico. The DMS was established in recognition of the importance of the island’s marine resources of, particularly coral reefs, fisheries and pharmacological potential of marine organisms in the surrounding waters. The DMS was created as a graduate department with an academic program granting a Master in Sciences degree. The degree of Doctor in Philosophy in Marine Sciences was certified by the BHE on November 17, 1972 by means of Certification No. 42 of 1972-73. From its origins the academic program of the Department of Marine Sciences was based on four core areas: biological, chemical, geological and physical oceanography.
In 1973, Dr. Francisco Pagán Font (RIP) became director of the DMS and introduced an aquaculture program into the curriculum. That program remained active until 2004. Other directors of the DMS in chronological order were Thomas R. Tosteson (interim), Manuel Hernández Ávila, John M. Kubaryk, Jorge E. Capella, Nilda E. Aponte (interim), José M. López (interim), Dallas E. Alston, Dr. Nilda E. Aponte, Dr. John M. Kubaryk, Dr. Jorge E. Corredor