Thursday, November 18, 2010

At Some Point the University of Minnesota 

and the Regents

Are Going To Have To Face Up to The

Responsibilities Of a Public Institution

It is a shame that Dr. Kaler, an excellent candidate, starts his tenure as the next president of the University of Minnesota under a cloud.  

This was avoidable and does not speak very well of the process or of the behavior of those involved in giving the clear appearance of trying to skirt the open meeting law.

People should not have been permitted to advance to the semi-finalists level if they did not agree to the public interviews that are required by law.

I am very disappointed in my university.

From a statement by the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists:

The University of Minnesota’s hiring of Eric Kaler as president today appears to be a positive step for the institution’s governance.
Unfortunately, the fact he is being introduced to the public only after a closed door process designed to circumvent state law is a disappointing way to get to this point.
The moment the Regents named Kaler the lone finalist it became evident the university had choreographed a delicate dance to keep a significant amount of information secret from the public.

The Open Meetings Law exists to allow Minnesotans to hold their publicly supported entities accountable. The citizens demand this transparency and university officials’ insistence that they are above the law is a betrayal of the public’s trust.
“We hoped university officials would have gotten the message after the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected their argument that the Open Meetings Law didn’t apply to them,” said state SPJ President Sarah Bauer. “Instead they seem even more determined to try and outwit the law the public holds dear.”
It’s time for University of Minnesota officials to understand the goals of the institution are not separate from the goals of the public.  Rather than working to outflank its citizens, the university should embrace its public responsibility and set the right example for Minnesota and the nation.


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