Sustained Outrage

WVU Secrecy IV

We shouldn’t pick on the WVU Board of Governors for shrouding the selection of a new university president in secrecy (See WVU Secrecy I, WVU Secrecy II and WVU Secrecy III) … because they’re not the only ones hiding behind closed doors.

The state Higher Education Policy Commission is also keeping the public out. Commission members scheduled a meeting for 4 p.m. today in Charleston. Like the WVU Board of Governors, they sidestepped the state Open Meetings Act requirement that agencies announce their meetings 5 days ahead of time, by calling today’s gathering an “emergency meeting.”

To their credit, the commission did a little better than the WVU board.

First, when the commission filed its notice with the Secretary of State’s office, they announced that there would be a “Possible Executive Session,” perhaps in a slight nod to the fact that the commission can’t go into executive session until a majority of the members present vote to do so.

Second, the commission made a half-hearted attempt to explain the “facts and circumstances of the emergency” that requires “immediate official action,” the legal trigger for allowing a less than 5-day public notice.  The commission’s notice explained:

Reason for an emergency meeting: Immediate action is required to avoid a delay in the selection of a president at West Virginia University.

The WVU Board of Governors apparently decided to go ahead and have its discussions behind closed doors today, according to the early media reports out of Morgantown.

But it’s not too late for the Higher Education Policy Commission to let the sunshine in, and opt to have its meeting this afternoon in public.

The commission members are: David Tyson, David Hendrickson, Bruce Berry, Kathy Eddy, John Estep, Cindy Largent-Hill, Bob Brown, Kay Goodwin, John Leon and Steven L. Paine.

The commission office phone number is 304-558-2101. Or, you could drop an e-mail message to commission Chancellor Brian Noland.

(BTW, if you still want to learn more about the two candidates, Gregory H. Williams and James P. Clements, WVU has posted CVs and other bio material here).