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University of Montana professor seeking public records pertaining to budget cuts

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MISSOULA - A University of Montana professor and his attorney are calling for transparency at UM by asking the school to provide public records and documents involving more than nine budget cut meetings.

They're raising questions about minutes that are were not made available from the Academic Program and Administration Services Prioritization Task Force, a group who reviewed all 415 programs at UM in the span of a week.

With so many programs to review in such a short time frame, Professor Merhdad Kia, director of UM's Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center, is concerned about the overall process.

He and his lawyer are also asking for documents identifying the anonymous "reviewers" who rated the 415 programs from "strong" to "not suitable," adding if UM doesn't provide these records, then the program recommendations are invalid.

“It hasn’t been made public and if it is not made available, then we think there may be illegality in respect to either open meetings or public participation or the right to know," said Missoula attorney Quentin Rhoades. "And if there is, these recommendations are void.”

"There’s reference to meetings that took place, even in the provost's office itself, for which there is no content," Kia said. "There is no substance. We want to know what happened in these meetings. We want to know what transpired. What was discussed? Who voted?"

A Montana State law says "a person may request and make copies of public records from a public agency" and Kia says UM falls under these guidelines.

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