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Private headhunter firm circumvents state FOI law

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  1. Freedom of Information
With the explicit intention of keeping candidate applications out of the public eye, the University of Arkansas is using a private search…

With the explicit intention of keeping candidate applications out of the public eye, the University of Arkansas is using a private search firm in its hunt for a new chancellor.

The University of Arkansas Foundation Inc. will pay the search firm to look for a new head of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.  The foundation is funded with private money so the process won’t be subject to the state’s open records law. 

Tom Larimer, executive director of the Arkansas Press Association, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “It’s not the first time a company has used a third party to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act…They say it’s legal because they’re using private funds, but it doesn’t mean it’s right. It should be open to the public eye. If any public money is used at all, it will be open.”

School officials said using the private search firm would respect the candidates’ privacy, and once the finalists are selected they will be publicly named.