UM System wins lawsuit over rights to faculty syllabuses

Thursday, July 25, 2013 | 7:58 p.m. CDT; updated 9:29 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 26, 2013

COLUMBIA — Faculty in the University of Missouri System will not be required to release syllabuses to an outside advisory group, the Boone County Circuit Court ruled.

UM System President Tim Wolfe announced the decision by Circuit Judge Kevin Crane in an email to faculty Thursday. A judgment in the case heard June 21 was entered July 17, according to court records.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Council on Teacher Quality sued the UM System Board of Curators in October.

The council made an open records request for the syllabuses and related material in 2011. It sought to evaluate teacher training at the system's four campuses. The review was part of a larger project examining teacher preparation programs at 1,100 public and private universities nationwide.

In July 2012, the UM System denied the request, saying the records were the intellectual property of the faculty who created them and, therefore, exempt from the open records laws. The council and the UM System tried and failed to reach a compromise on the issue.

"We have long taken the position that syllabi are the intellectual property of the faculty members who develop them," Wolfe wrote in the email.

Wolfe said the system met with faculty and administrators at all four campuses to determine whether or not to release the syllabuses. Based on the feedback, the system decided to maintain the denial of the request.

The council did not immediately return a call late Thursday afternoon.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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