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Madison Cabinet's Transparency Victory, but More is Needed

The Madison Cabinet is pleased to announce one of our first victories as an organization. Earlier this year in February, we sent an introductory email to JMU's Rector on February 16, 2023. A portion of that email is included below where we called on the JMU BOV to follow though on the statements from the September 2022 meeting where the Board committed to post all documents online. The JMU BOV Website now contains a link for "Board Materials," which includes all of the presentations and materials from the Committees and Full Board. We commend the University and Board of Visitors for following through on this commitment, but more is needed.

In advance of the next Board meeting later this week, we request the University post all materials online in advance of the meeting so members of the public can meaningfully follow the meeting and committees. Currently, the website only contains the agendas for the full board and committees. Additionally, we request the Board live stream each of the Committees to allow the public to hear the more detailed deliberations of the Board. Of particular interest, would be streaming of the Academic Excellence Committee, where the Speaker of the Faculty Senate is giving an update. (This should be interesting given the Faculty Senate's recent official condemnation of the Provost for "dissolution of meaningful faculty input, lack of transparency and accountability in appointments, shared governance, and the culture of intimidation emanating from the Provost's office.")

This is perhaps the most important board meeting for parents and families, since the University will be setting tuition and fees for the upcoming year. Accordingly, a maximum amount of transparency should be provided to allow parents and students the ability to see all of the information presented to justify this potential $640 increase in cost.

Tuition increase: 0 - 4.9% or $376

Fees increase: 0 - 4.9% or $264

Email from 2/16/23:

As I'm sure you know, an alumni group called the Madison Cabinet for Free Speech and Accountability has formed. One of the core goals of the organization is to increase transparency of the governing body of the university. To that end, we would like to note the comments below provided at the September 16, 2022 Board of Visitors meeting where Mr. Jeffrey Grass, Chair of the Governance committee, stated that certain transparency measures would be implemented "immediately." He stated, "we will be, based on some of the ideas suggested, we are moving to adopt a few [ ideas from the Partners Group report]. We will be immediately implementing a few changes, to be even more open with these three dimensions. These include that we will now promote all board meetings on all JMU social media channels, including any requests for public comment prior, we will now post the full board binder on the JMU website following each board meeting, and we will now indicate on the JMU website correspondence for public comment be sent to the Rector to be even more clear the board is accessible to public comment at all times.” These comments can be found at about 27 minutes in the recording link posted below.

While JMU's recent public statements and video on free speech have not gone unnoticed by members of the Madison Cabinet, the lack of follow up on actually implementing these changes that were stated to take effect immediately - in September 2022, exactly 5 months ago - have also not gone unnoticed. In reviewing the JMU BOV website, we see little, if any, change or any posting of the full board binder - not just the agenda - as stated. We respectfully request the university post the full board binders for BOV meetings in September, November, and the most recent meeting from last week as promised.

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