Thursday, November 13, 2008

You ask about UCA? UPDATE

Posted By on Thu, Nov 13, 2008 at 12:51 PM

Many have inquired about the names of the many UCA students who received discretionary scholarships there in a program controlled by the university president. It has cost $300,000 or so a year. Students need not have demonstrated need or academic excellence to win the money.

I filed an FOI request for those names and got the denial I expected (on the jump).

I have not yet received a response to my question about how it is that UCA broadly interprets federal law to prohibit disclosure of these scholarship recipients' names when it and most other Arkansas universities announce any number of scholarship recipients every year -- from athletic to honors scholarships. Is it lawbreaking to say who's a scholarship football player and who's a walk-on? I don't think so. What's the difference here, besides the embarrassment factor for favored insiders? Perhaps Sen. Gilbert Baker would ask a little sunshine from his hometown university to assure us that no politicians enjoyed special favors there on account of their positions. Right, Gil-bo?

UPDATE: More's cooking on UCA, I believe. Predicted topic: installment payment plans for students. Most campuses offer such plans. It's in colleges' financial interest to be sure students meet their commitments to pay under these plans.

RESPONSE FROM UCA

I received the e-mail you forwarded from the Arkansas Times seeking the
names of all recipients of discretionary scholarships at UCA during the
current academic year and the three preceding academic years.

The university is unable to comply with the request.  Ark. Code Ann. §
25-19-105 set forth the exemptions to disclosure of public records.
Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-105 (b)(2) exempts the disclosure of "education
records as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of
1974, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, unless their disclosure is consistent with the
provisions of that act."

FERPA prohibits the disclosure of education records to third parties
without the written consent of the student.  Education records are
broadly defined broadly by FERPA as "records, files, documents and other
materials which ... contain information directly related to a student;
and ... are maintained by an educational agency or institution."  

In my opinion, the records sought by the Arkansas Times are exempt from
disclosure. 

Let me know if I can answer any questions. 

Jack Gillean
Vice President for Administration

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