The candidate search committeee's meeting schedule and the minutes from its meetings are public information provided by the University's Board of Trustees.
Minutes for Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008, 11:30 a.m.
II. Legal Parameters and Freedom of Information Act (FOI): Chairman Loadholt called on Mr. Parham who briefly discussed the application of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act to the operation of this committee. He noted that included in this act were remedies in the event of violations in both an equitable relief section and criminal penalties.
Mr. Parham noted that this committee must operate as a public body (supported in whole or part by public funds as well as any subcommittee thereof) and therefore must comply with all of the provisions of the law.
Additionally, it is required that the committee provide: (1) notice of public meetings; (2) post an agenda not less than 24 hours in advance of any meeting; and (3) record minutes of each meeting. He stressed that a meeting is considered a quorum of the members gathering together formally, informally or electronically to discuss any aspect of the search. Mr. Parham also reviewed the parameters of an executive session during meetings; he reminded committee members of the obligation that voting must be done during open sessions.
Mr. Parham specifically addressed whether applicant identity can be maintained as confidential information. He advised that the law clearly states"all materials regardless of form gathered by a public body during a search to fill an employment position may be exempt from disclosure." However, once the committee establishes finalists for the position (FOI requires not fewer than three), "all materials gathered in connection with those finalist candidates is disclosable upon request."
Mr. Parham further explained the use of e-mails as disclosable information upon request; he asked the committee to be judicious and discreet with e-mail content.
He also addressed the question of with whom committee members could discuss the applicant pool once the search process begins. From a legal perspective, once someone applies, he recommended that the committee only discuss the candidacy with other members unless the chairman otherwise directs.
Media questions regarding the status of the search Mr. Parham advised should be directed to the chair as the sole spokesperson of the committee. The committee concurred that it was the policy of the committees that the chair be the sole spokesperson.
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