Regents to take presidential search case to state Supreme Court

by Patricia Drey

The University Board of Regents will appeal a state court decision requiring the board to release the names of finalists from its last presidential search.

“We have a very strong constitutional argument, and I think it warrants careful consideration by the (Minnesota) Supreme Court,” said University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg. “I’m hopeful it will receive that kind of careful Supreme Court scrutiny.”

The appeal will be the second filed in the nine months since five media organizations – The Minnesota Daily, the Star Tribune, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Rochester Post-Bulletin and the Minnesota Joint Media Committee – sued the board for refusing to reveal the names and voting to close all presidential search meetings.

The organizations claim the board’s actions violated two state public access laws: Minnesota’s Data Practices Act and Open Meeting Law.

The University argued the laws do not apply to the board when selecting a president because of the institution’s constitutional autonomy

In March, a Hennepin County District Court judge ruled the laws do apply to the board and required the names to be released.

On Aug. 19, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling.

Rotenberg said his office has drafted an appeal and it will be filed before the Sept. 18 deadline.

Patricia Drey covers student life and welcomes comments at [email protected]