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Indiana Trustees Violated Open-Records Law

February 17, 2022

The Board of Trustees at Indiana University skirted the state’s Open Door Law when it used a closed executive session to approve a $582,000 contract extension for former IU president Michael McRobbie last year, according to an opinion from the state’s public access counselor.

“To be sure, despite IU’s casualness regarding high-dollar contracts, a contract extension or consulting agreement worth over $500,000 to a single employee is undoubtedly an action item that would need authorization via final action and warrant discussion in an open meeting,” Indiana public access counselor Luke H. Britt wrote in an opinion issued last week.

The ruling comes in response to a complaint IU law professor Steve Sanders filed in October with the Office of the Public Access Counselor. Sanders contended that McRobbie’s contract extension did not receive discussion or a formal vote in a public meeting. Upon investigation, Britt’s office concurred, though local media reports indicate no punishment is expected for IU.

The contract extension for McRobbie came amid a presidential search for his successor, Indiana Public Media reported, noting that he would be paid $582,722 for six additional months if IU was unable to replace him ahead of his retirement. Ultimately, McRobbie did not serve the additional time but was paid that amount nonetheless for providing “consulting services.”

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