Kent State officials were so intent on keeping their search for a new president secret that they destroyed search committee notes and documents.
Search committee member Tom Janson, a music professor, said KSU shredded his notes and documents after he interviewed prospects.
“The notes are gone,” said anthropology professor Owen Lovejoy, another search committee member. “Everything’s been taken care of. We shredded anything with personal data.”
When asked for comment about the reports of the shredding, KSU spokesman Eric Mansfield did not respond directly to the question.
He reiterated what he has in the past — that KSU has done nothing wrong.
“Kent State University neither has violated any public records laws nor has the university violated or failed to conform to any internal policy,” he said in an email. “We have turned over all records that are relevant.”
Meanwhile, the University of Akron and Youngstown State University have conducted open searches for new presidents, making it possible to know, for example, that former Ohio State University football coach and UA vice president Jim Tressel is a candidate at both institutions.
Details slowly emerging underscore the extent to which the public, tax-supported Kent State went to ensure that it could conduct its search in private, away from the public eye, to keep names of candidates secret and to prevent disclosing how much it spent on individual candidates.
Not only did KSU require search committee members to sign confidentiality agreements, the university signed a contract addendum giving its private search firm, Storbeck Pimentel and Associates of Media, Pa., the power to decide what records are released to the public.
As a result, when the Beacon Journal and other media asked for public records showing how the $250,000 in taxpayer and student tuition money was spent, the university deferred to Storbeck Pimentel, which declined to deliver documentation that normally would be available.