Employee names removed from salary list

Ryan Jarvi

In an attempt to make information more accessible and public universities more transparent, a law that was passed last year required Grand Valley State University, along with all other state-funded institutions, to disclose specific information regarding university operations through a link on its website.

Part of that was listing employees by name, position and annual salary. However, the law changed in June so that employees’ names were no longer required in the General Fund Position List.

“State reporting policy calls for the state’s 15 public universities to list online the salaries of all employees by job title,” said Matt McLogan, vice president for University Relations. “Previously, individual names were also listed, but over the years there have been complaints to state policymakers that the inclusion of names caused embarrassment to some, if not many, employees.”

GVSU’s Human Resources receives complaints every year, but the university hasn’t kept track of how many have gone through regarding the disclosure of names and salaries online, McLogan said.

Under Michigan’s Public Act 201 of 2012, within 30 days after a public university adopts an annual operating budget or a revision to that budget, the university is required to post specific information to its website. State-funded universities were required to post financial reports, audits, operating budgets, campus safety and crime reports and more.

Most of the required information for GVSU was already available online at the university’s website prior to the passing of the law, with an exception being the list of employees who are paid through the general fund.

“We think Grand Valley is the state’s most transparent university,” McLogan said. “We regularly publish our performance outcomes and make available a full report of how we handle the resources we receive from students, donors and taxpayers.”

Section 245 (1)(d) of Public Act 201 of 2012 stated, “a list of all positions funded partially or wholly through institutional general fund revenue that includes the position title, name and annual salary or wage amount for each position.”

Michigan’s Public Act 60 of 2013, which went into effect in June, revised Section 245(1)(d) and the requirement of posting a General Fund Position List that included the names of university employees.

“Listing relevant data by title shows how much that particular function costs, thus making a salary review about the worth of a position rather than the worth of a particular individual,” McLogan said. “In theory, this is a more objective way to perform a salary comparison among comparable institutions.”

Though the posting of employees’ names, positions and salaries online was something new, the university has kept a paper list of employee salaries in the university archives for decades, which has included employees’ names.

“It is not required by law,” McLogan said. “However, salary information is subject to freedom of information inquiry. I anticipate that the old paper lists will be kept for archival purposes and would therefore be available for review. The online version makes publication of a paper list of general fund employees unnecessary.”

For more information on GVSU’s transparency reports, visit www.gvsu.edu/budgets/—8.htm.