Sunshine Laws in Higher Education
Public higher education is a major recipient of state funding and resources. As such, public colleges and universities directly respond to state needs for higher education and are required to provide transparency in decision-making, which is codified in state open-meeting and record laws. These laws, often termed “sunshine laws,” present challenges and opportunities to institutional leaders across many dimensions: executive search and selection processes; board deliberation and decision-making; and institutional finance and business operations. Within the context of sunshine laws, effective institutional governance depends on deftly balancing the need for transparency with the obligation to ensure an institution achieves its public purpose. This policy brief reviews the critical issues associated with these laws and provides institutional leaders and state policymakers with recommendations that address the important need for transparency while recognizing the challenges of board governance and leadership in the sunshine.