The head of the Minnesota Senate's higher education committee is voicing concern about the University of Minnesota's handling of a recent data request for correspondence by a high-profile faculty task force.
Sen. Paul Anderson, R-Plymouth, issued a statement in response to a Thursday Star Tribune report outlining missteps in handing over documents about the work of a task force on renaming campus buildings, which the newspaper had requested this past spring. The U has acknowledged improperly redacting e-mails it provided in response to the request.
After questions from the Star Tribune, it also released additional documents, including an e-mail from a deputy chief of staff for policy and initiatives to former U President Eric Kaler. In the e-mail, she urges task force members to delete a note she had sent them so they wouldn't have to make it public under the state's Government Data Practices Act.
Anderson called the report "deeply concerning" and said it raises questions about "systematic efforts to thwart public transparency."
"Any deliberate deletion or destruction of materials in an effort to obstruct public knowledge is simply unacceptable, and those responsible need to be held accountable to restore the public's trust," Anderson said. "Moving forward, I am hopeful the University of Minnesota, and President [Joan] Gabel's Administration, can strengthen their standards for how to handle data requests and reaffirm their commitment to transparency and openness with the public."