UI received 857 FOIA requests in 2014

By Abigale Svoboda

The University Board of Trustees’ Governance, Ethics and Personnel Committee met Thursday to hear the annual ethics report of the 2014 calendar year, touching on both Steven Salaita and James Kilgore’s cases.

Donna McNeely, executive director of Ethics and Compliance, said the office had 120 active ethics cases during 2014, a 41 percent increase from 2013. She said she views this as a positive sign that more people are coming forward with concerns and asking questions, rather than as an indication that there were more ethical issues in 2014.

University spokesman Tom Hardy reported on the Office for University Relations’ handling of Freedom of Information Act requests during 2014.

Hardy said in 2014, University Relations received a record 857 FOIA requests and processed over 100,000 pages of public documents.

“Half of the 100,000 documents provided came during the three-month period in the fall when the Steven Salaita issue was at its highest,” Hardy said.

Hardy said 18 of the 857 requests were brought to the attorney general; three were resolved prior to an opinion being issued, four and a half were decided in favor of the University and nine were requested by the same person. Ten are still under review.

According to the report, the Ethics and Compliance Office focused more on their image by redesigning their website and distributing “do your part” posters across all University campuses and encouraging faculty, staff and students to speak up if they are concerned.

“We want to continue to express and impress upon people that it is everyone’s responsibility to step up and do their part,” McNeely said.

She added that it’s also important for University members to know they can speak with the office confidentially.

Also at the meeting, Nick Burbules, member of the University Senates Conference, gave an update on the review process of governing documents. The University statutes and general rules have been under thorough review over the past two years.

This is the first time in over 30 years the statutes and general rules have been revised, Burbules said.

He stated the revisions are almost done and the statutes and general rules have been updated to keep pace with the “ever-evolving” nature of the University.

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