University of Akron officials mostly demonstrate public records compliance
By: Ben Postlethwait
Reporter/Producer/Host at WOUB Public Media, reporting on behalf of The Post
On behalf of The Post, a representative was sent from Ohio University to The University of Akron to participate in the Ohio Universities Public Records Audit on Jan. 29. Of the five public records requested, Akron demonstrated awareness of and compliance with open records law and the administrative services that handle requests.
Students from nine Ohio universities participated, auditing 12 Ohio public universities for this report. The results were coded and compiled. Five standard public records were requested from each public university in the state from their respective offices and administrations.
At the University of Akron, four out of the five requests were directed directly to the office of the university’s legal counsel for official submission and documentation. Administrative employees obstructed one request.
Scott Campbell, Associate General Counsel and Records Compliance Officer, said that the university makes it a priority to comply with open records law.
“Based on the significant measures outlined in [our records policy], it is clear The University of Akron considers the timely response to public records requests a very important function and service,” Campbell said.
The first record requested was the most recent performance evaluation of the university’s provost. This request was the most substantial, necessitating a visit to the main administration building on campus, Butchell Hall.
When the request was made, the administrative assistant at the provost’s office was very accommodating, she requested the auditor’s name but did not require it. The assistant checked with her supervisor, but then stated that all requests of that type needed to be documented and filed with legal affairs office.
A legal clerk in the Office of the General Counsel said, “Most offices are trained to direct major requests of documents to the legal affairs office, just so we can keep track of what’s being asked for.”
This proved true for the following requests for the names of students responsible for violent crimes at the Office of Community Standards and the amount of money spent on travel by the university’s foundation.
Administrative assistants at those offices directed official requests to the legal affairs office, saying that they both did not know whether or not the records requested were public and that any requests needed to be documented by the legal office.
A request made for the total amount of money brought in by ticket sales at home football games at the athletic budgetary office was directed toward the stadium ticketing office. They provided a quick response and said that comprehensive requests would need to be filed with the campus legal office.
The one request that was partially obstructed was for the College of Education’s 2014-2015 operating budget. The administrative assistants at that office said that, due to financial complications at the University of Akron, the past year’s budget was not compiled. Assistants there said the budgeting staff would most likely be found in institutional research or a more general financial office.
The University of Akron’s full public records policy can be found here.