Thursday, August 6, 2009


There's an interesting side note in the Eagle story about the resignation of the CPI chair.
Last week, lawyers from the A&M System asked the CPI to take down from the group's Web site "proprietary documents" related to the centers that contained profit estimates and a strategic plan titled "Redefining the Biomedical Enterprise." The CPI complied.

Rod Davis, a spokesman for the A&M System, said the concerns that the system had were related only to the documents containing the proprietary information and said no pressure was put on Bell-Pedersen to step down.

"To have that posted would have been breaking the law, so our general counsel sent a letter to the CPI asking them to take it down," Davis said. "When advised, they took it down."
Some may wonder what kind of proprietary information would be in the documents about a taxpayer-funded public institution. Especially since we've been assured that there are no deals with any companies. Doesn't the public have a right to know what the strategic plan is for their tax dollars?

Well, no.

Universities have a lot of legal requirements for confidentiality under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA ensures that academic records can only be disclosed with a student's consent, event to his parents. So, even if they think they're the most unintentionally entertaining things they've ever read, the faculty aren't allowed to post a student's reports on the internet where his parents might see them and cut him off.

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