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Purdue search panel violates state notice law

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The search committee for Purdue University's new president had private meetings this week that a state official said were held without sufficient public notice under Indiana law.

The 14-person search committee, which includes four Purdue Board of Trustees members, met Monday evening at a downtown Indianapolis restaurant and Tuesday at a nearby hotel. The Journal & Courier reported Wednesday that the trustees announced the meetings Monday morning, seven hours before the first session started.

State public access counselor Joseph Hoage said Purdue should have notified the public and media of the meetings by 5 p.m. last Thursday to meet legal requirements.

"If they don't comply, they are not providing proper notice," Hoage said. "If someone filed a formal complaint with the office, we could issue an opinion statement that they are violating an open-door law. Then, they could redo the meeting or respond another way."

Search committee chairman Mike Berghoff, a Purdue trustee from Indianapolis, said details of the meetings were finalized last week but the notice was not posted at that time by the trustees office. Berghoff said he decided to post the notice late and hold the meeting.

"I wanted to understand what options we had. One of them, we could have canceled the meeting," he said. "There was quite a bit of travel involved and plans made. There were no votes or conclusions made at the meeting, but it was a mistake."

The panel is looking to replace President France Cordova, who is stepping down this summer after five years leading the school. The university has about 75,000 students at its West Lafayette and regional campuses.

Cordova, who turns 65 in August, announced her retirement last July. The search committee is expected to develop a list of finalists to replace her this spring.

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