The University of Nebraska, a fine institution of higher learning and bastion of higher principles, is not so keen about openness.
A bill in the Legislature, introduced at the sole request of the University, would keep the application of finalists and other candidates for the offices of NU President, Chancellor, or Vice President off the public record.
That means no one from the public could see the applications, thereby eliminating the opportunity to give input to the Board of Regents anytime before the Regents select NU’s chief officers.
The Regents might want to honor the rest of us -- the public, news media, students, faculty and administration -- by keeping the critical end of the selection process in the public light, not in a secret place, but if the bill passes, they wouldn’t get the chance.
We are not talking about a private or small corporation here. We are talking about a tax-supported institution -- one of the largest institutions in Nebraska, with a budget of just over $2.3 billion -- that receives a major portion of the total cost of government in our state.
The NU officers that would be hired secretly are the same officers that administer (help spend) this money. Their overall competency and judgment is critical, and not just to the Regents.
Nebraska is a special “open” government state, with highly praised laws to guarantee transparency of decision making. Our public records and meetings laws are known countrywide to be strong, and have worked well to keep our state and local governments “open to inspection.”
That’s the strongest way to be.
First published in the Bulletin's Feb. 5 print edition.