A Review of University Responses to Informal Queries and Open Records Requests for Aggregate Hiring-Related Data
Year of Publication
Martin School of Public Policy and Administration
Master of Public Administration
Dr. Eugenia Toma
Open records (OR) laws ensure that members of the public, including public managers, directors of nonprofit organizations, and individual citizens, have access to the records created by public agencies. Local government and state government agencies are generally recognized to be subject to OR laws, but so are Kentucky’s public universities. The author created a survey to review the responses to both an informal query and a formal open records request made of Kentucky’s eight public, four-year universities (Eastern Kentucky University; Kentucky State University; Morehead State University; Murray State University; Northern Kentucky University; University of Kentucky; University of Louisville; and Western Kentucky University).
Diversity is a common topic at universities across the country, but most discussions pertain to the student body and to faculty. In higher education, OR laws are most commonly discussed in relation to openness and transparency in presidential searches, financial foundation activities, and governing board discussions. There are almost no discussions about diversity among the non-teaching staff. Academic literature that combines diversity and OR laws is not common, but it may develop as diversity conversations continue. McLendon and Hearn (2006) commented on the effect of OR laws on the many facets of a university, including its personnel activities. The issue of implicit gender-, race-, and ethnicity-based bias could be an area of interest for a public manager or nonprofit director, but the first step is accessing the information. Given the number of studies that demonstrate the workplace inequities faced by individuals from underrepresented populations1, the author developed a survey that included gender-, race-, and ethnicity-related data for applicants and those hired into secretarial and clerical positions. The data received would not be evaluated through a statistical technique or method, but rather the survey was intended to describe the responses to the queries and to the OR requests.
The author first informally queried human resources officials for the gender-, race-, and ethnicity-related data via electronic mail and if that was not fruitful, the author submitted an OR request. There was little to no consistency among university responses to the survey. Three institutions responded to the author’s informal query almost exactly as asked (Morehead State University, Murray State University, and University of Kentucky); these three were the only institutions that provided the information in the format requested. Two responded to the OR request, one with information that was almost what the author requested and in the right format (Northern Kentucky University), and one responded with detailed, individually identifiable data in PDF format (Western Kentucky University). Three universities completely denied the author’s OR requests (Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky State University, and University of Louisville). Until OR laws are applied consistently and correctly at Kentucky’s public universities, public managers and nonprofit directors may find it difficult to review these universities’ workplace hiring and evaluation activities.
Brothers, Sheila, "A Review of University Responses to Informal Queries and Open Records Requests for Aggregate Hiring-Related Data" (2016). MPA/MPP/MPFM Capstone Projects. 266.
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