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Editorial: OU delayed in sending us salary information on its employees. Then it provided incorrect data.

As a public institution, Ohio University owes its community transparency, accountability and reliable information. However, the university failed to live up to the appropriate standards at multiple points when The Post put together its third annual Salary Guide

On Oct. 12, 2021, The Post filed a public records request to obtain the name, title, academic title, organization and salary of all university employees for the past year. The request was acknowledged the next day — Oct. 13 — and marked the beginning of a long waiting game.

Executive leadership of The Post followed up with OU Paralegal Shelly Bean and OU spokespeople on multiple occasions about the status of the request. Emails were sent, and the topic was brought up in Microsoft Teams meetings Post editors have with OU’s University Communications and Marketing Team on a monthly basis. 

We were told the data would not be ready until the new year, and then, not until early March 2022. The data was given to The Post on March 4, meaning The Post waited over 130 days for 2021 salary information.

It is unfathomable how over 130 days could be considered a “promptly” preparation of public records under the Ohio Revised Code — especially considering The Post has made public its intention to produce a Salary Guide every year since 2019. Requesting this data is nothing new

UCM then alerted The Post there was an error with the way the Salary Guide was portraying compensation. 

The Post originally added together the provided base salary and additional compensation for each university employee in order to best illustrate their total earnings. However, data provided to The Post by OU’s Human Resources department listed the “base salary” for hourly workers as one hour of wages, skewing the total earnings. 

The data we published was identical to what was published on OU's website. It took a phone call between UCM and The Post where UCM wrongly assumed we — not the university’s HR department — made the mistake. The Post’s Salary Guide has since been updated with medicare taxable wages in the total earnings column to best reflect employee earnings.

We are disappointed that our university would provide us with inaccurate data and then blame us for their error. We are even more disappointed by the fact that we waited over 100 days to put together this guide in order to give OU students and faculty a valuable source of information, just for it to have an error upon launch. Why were hourly salaries not accurately portrayed in the data compiled by HR when there were over 100 days to get it right? 

Access to public records is essential to the work of all journalists. It’s our right, as it is for any private citizen, to gain access to information from institutions that we all pay for and support with tax dollars. When OU delays sending us information, it delays our reporting, leaving the entire community in the dark on important issues and topics. 

We’re not sure why the university took so long to get us this data, and it’s not our job as journalists to make assumptions. However, every student should be worried about how the university dragged its feet in providing us with crucial information that matters to every single Bobcat.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post's executive editors: Editor-in-Chief Abby Miller, Managing Editor Bre Offenberger and Digital Managing Editor Matt Geiger. Post editorials are independent of the publication's news coverage.

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