University of Kentucky faculty trustee Irina Voro probably stepped over the line when she asked her constituents to vote on firing a UK vice president who had turned down her request for information. Her email to faculty seems mean-spirited and misdirected.
But more troubling is the flawed decision to require trustees to go through board chair Britt Brockman when they want information about the university they are charged with overseeing.
According to emails, last week Voro read an article about administrative creep at universities that made her curious about how many administrators are at UK.
With a board retreat coming up on the weekend, she fired off an email Wednesday night to Kimberly Wilson, UK's human resources chief, asking for that information.
Wilson responded after the end of the business day on Thursday saying that Brockman and President Eli Capilouto "have agreed that requests for information from members of the Board flow through the Board Chair. We are glad to provide whatever information you and the Board Chair think appropriate on this and any other matter."
That's clearly over the line.
In the first place, the information Voro requested should be open to anyone under Kentucky's open-records law. That's the law.
Also, a trait of almost any troubled institution is concentrating control of information among the few. It breeds distrust, invites corruption and encourages those outside the inner circle to become cynical and disengaged.
UK says it wants to funnel requests through the chair to avoid time-wasting duplicate requests. There's no assertion that anyone else asked for the information Voro requested. In any case, a better solution would be to ask trustees, as a courtesy, to copy the chair when they request information.
Engaged, questioning trustees can only make UK better. If inconvenience is the cost of accountability, so be it.