Jul 29, 2022 - News

College administrators travel records come with cost

WMU's Heritage Hall
Heritage Hall on WMU's campus in Kalamazoo. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

Western Michigan University is requesting $860.73 for travel and expense records of top administrators.

Why it matters: Michigan colleges routinely fight to keep expense records, presidential searches or coach hirings a secret, the Free Press' M.L. Elrick writes.

What's happening: WMU granted Axios' request for the records of president Edward Montgomery and marketing vice president Tony Proudfoot, but not without a steep fee.

  • While the university has tasked two executive assistants with procuring the president's records, it argues Proudfoot must obtain his own records, considerably increasing the price.
  • Proudfoot makes $177.84 an hour, which means two hours of his work costs $355.68 — nearly what the two employees tasked with furnishing Montgomery's records make combined.

What they're saying: When asked why it's necessary that Proudfoot — one of the subjects of the request — be involved in obtaining the records, a university spokesperson said "he's in the best position to verify the records since the beginning of his employment."

  • WMU has also prompted Axios to commence an action in the Michigan Court of Claims to request a fee reduction if they are believed to be higher than those permitted by state law or its FOIA Policy.
  • Commencing that action would need to come in the next 45 days.

What's next: Axios has filed a public interest fee waiver, arguing that the information would contribute to the public's understanding of the operations and activities at the public institution.

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