Court rules Eastern Michigan Foundation open to public, reverses lower court ruling

MICHIGAN — A state court of appeals ruled in January that the records and meetings of the Eastern Michigan University Foundation must be open to the public, overturning a lower court’s decision.The situation began when an alumnus of the school requested information on the meetings and financial condition of the foundation.Administrators denied Eric Jackson’s request and he filed a lawsuit shortly after. A lower court ruled in favor of the foundation, but the decision was appealed.The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the decision in accordance with the state’s Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act. According to Michigan law, any institution that receives over half its funds from the government is considered public and subject to the law.The foundation received more than half its funding from the university in its first two years of existence and was then transferred the university’s entire endowment of $7.7 million in March 1992. This amount of money allowed the state freedom of information laws to apply, the court ruled in Jackson v. Eastern Michigan University Foundation, 544 N.W.2d 737 (Mich. Ct. App. 1996).Eastern Michigan University Student Publications Director Paul Heaton said the foundation said they would not be appealing the decision.