Plan for more transparency at Pa.’s state-related unversities faces hurdles

    Lawmakers keen on bringing Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities under the state’s open records law may be opening up a can of worms.

    Penn State, Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln together receive more than $500 million from the state. Unlike the state-owned universities, they don’t have to comply with most of the state’s open records law — something lawmakers have sought to remedy.

    But state-related universities aren’t the only ones who receive state funding; museums and private schools, including the University of Pennsylvania, also get funds from the state.

    What’s tricky here, says Office of Open Records director Terry Mutchler, is answering how much transparency should be required of the myriad institutions that receive public funds.

    “I’m glad I don’t have to decide this, but it’s one thing that should be examined — what that level of transparency is going to be,” Mutchler said.

    The Right-to-Know law exemption became a flashpoint after charges were filed against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky for sexually abusing children on the university’s campus.

    Media organizations requested police records from the school, and Penn State denied that request, citing its exemption to the open records law.

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