Attorney General rules University Foundation must release records

4/27/2014: That would be in North Dakota. The SPLC has the story here.

5/26/2011: University foundations to follow open records law

In California, that is.

The UO Foundation is no fan of transparency. Last year they actually went to Attorney General Kroger and procured a special ruling exempting them from Oregon’s public records law. Here’s the letter from their lawyer, Frederick Batson, requesting the ruling.

They release the absolute minimum of financial information. Try finding out how much they are paying CEO R. Paul Weinhold, or CIO Jay Namyet, or for that matter their former CEO Karen Kreft, who received hefty raises, benefits, and then what looks like 18 months of severance, at $300K a year. The only data is from the mandatory IRS reports, and their compliance director Erika Funk delays release of those to the last possible minute. Try finding out how they spend the donations they receive. They release only rudimentary info, refusing to break down much of their spending into academic/athletic categories – which other university foundations do as a matter of course. They collect far more from Duck Athletic Fund donations – solicited as help for athlete’s college expenses – than they spend on tuition, fees, and books. They won’t say where they spend the rest of that donor money.

The UC and CSU Foundations have done these sorts of things themselves – but they have now agreed to clean up their act. From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

California Universities Drop Opposition to Donor-Transparency Bill

May 25, 2011, 2:38 pm

The University of California and California State University systems will no longer oppose a bill that would make their nonprofit foundations subject to the state’s open-records law, the bill’s author, Sen. Leland Yee, announced on Wednesday. The universities aggressively fought similar legislation in past years, and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it twice over concerns that it would violate the privacy of university donors who wished to remain anonymous. But Mr. Yee reached an agreement on a compromise bill, which is very likely to be enacted, that he said would protect the anonymity of any donor who did not receive certain monetary rewards or attempt to “influence curriculum or university operations.”

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