Phi Beta Cons

Transparency, I Love You. Let Me Count the Ways

I’m about to show you how to find out information about a major public university. Yes, it will be boring, because it takes too long. But that, of course, is my point.

Let’s suppose you want to find out if a committee of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors is going to hold a meeting in the near future. Surely that information should be on the website of the University of North Carolina (the 16-campus system).

So you go there. You find a tab that says “Leadership and Policy.” From there you click again, “UNC Board of Governors.”  That’s easy.

But then you are stumped. Where would the board’s public meetings be listed?

Well, it turns out that you were wrong. It wasn’t under “UNC Board of Governors.” You have to go to “Systems Office.” (Someone gave me a hint.)

Under “Systems Office,” there are nine choices, from Academic Affairs to University Advancement.

Turns out that you need to choose Communications. (Ah, “public” means “communications.”) Now, we’re down to just three choices: News, News Archives, and Media Center. My second try: “Media Center.” (Is the public media? Hmm.)

And ah! There it is: Public Meetings. Clicking on that, I learn that there will be a meeting of the Personnel and Tenure Subcommittee on Monday, Oct. 20.

In a world in which savvy companies like Amazon encourage intuitive shopping, universities appear to be, well, in the email age.

Jane S. Shaw — Jane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...

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