Board of Trustees conflict over access to information

By Rachel Aretakis

Conflicting views over whether or not a UK Board of Trustee member was given certain information were discussed Monday in a Lexington Herald-Leader Op-Ed.

Irina Voro, faculty trustee and music professor, submitted the Op-Ed, “Stonewalling data request bad for UK,” to the Herald-Leader on Oct. 21, which focused on UK’s denial of administrator information to her.

When the Herald-Leader confirmed the statement with UK spokesman Jay Blanton that she wasn’t given the information, Blanton wrote in an email to the paper, “it is simply false that she did not get this info.” He requested that “any assertion she has made to the contrary be taken out of her Op-Ed, or if it is the focus of the Op-Ed I would ask that it not be run because it is false,” according to the email, which Voro forwarded to the Kernel.

Voro requested information about UK’s number of administrators on Sept. 28. She emailed Kim Wilson, the vice president of human resources, wanting to know the various ranks of administrators to discuss at the Board of Trustee retreat on Oct. 1- 2.

Voro said Wilson responded (with what Voro said is a “permission slip”) that she needed to verify the information with Board Chair Britt Brockman before Wilson could give the information to Voro.

In an email to the Kernel, Blanton said after he was informed about the opinion submission, he “verified the fact that Dr. Voro had been responded to and provided information.”

“I respectfully asked the Herald-Leader in an email to delete any misstatements or factual errors,” Blanton said. “That is no different than how I would proceed with another reporter at the Herald or reporters and editors at other publications, if asked about the accuracy of a news story or about specific points of fact in an opinion submission.”

Related Link: Oct. 25 Board of Trustees meeting agenda

A summary of the information Voro requested was presented to the Board on Oct. 1, Blanton said. Additional information was also provided to all trustees on Oct. 7, he said.

“No one was aware that Dr. Voro was not satisfied with the university’s response to her request until she filed an Open Records request with our Legal Office on Oct. 19 and when the Herald-Leader informed me that she had written an opinion piece,” Blanton said.

However Voro said the summary given to the trustees was not what she requested.

“The thing that was sent to all trustees on Oct. 7 and received by me on Oct. 10 was not the summary of the information that I asked for originally,” Voro said in an email to the Kernel. “It was entirely something else.”

Voro said she is being censored.

“I feel that what has been done by the Administration is highly unethical,” she said.

To obtain the information she originally wanted, Voro filed an Open Records request Oct. 19, and received an answer on Monday. She didn’t originally file the request because it takes three business days, and she said she needed the information before the Board of Trustees retreat.

“Most of all, if even trustees are forced to seek information from people who are legally their subordinates through Open Records request,” Voro said, “that by itself would be a major disaster in the business of trustees overseeing this university.”

In the Herald-Leader Op-Ed, Voro said she represents UK faculty aspirations.

“Those aspirations, not unlike any other taxpayers’, include finding and relieving our taxpayer-owned institution of the work-stifling, tuition-gobbling administrative bloat,” she said in the article.

She also said in the article that after being denied the information, she has a “greater suspicion that the UK bureaucracy doesn’t want us to know its actual size and the costs it inflicts.”