As a state institution, the University of Mary Washington is governed by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and certain information must be provided to anyone who asks, including members of the public and the news media. However, as an institution of higher education, the University also is governed by federal and state laws that limit the type of information that can be divulged about students and employees. For example, the Buckley Amendment (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA) does not allow University employees to release information concerning current or former students without the student’s express permission.
The Media and Public Relations staff participates in annual training sessions led by the Virginia Attorney General’s Office about the state’s FOIA and also stays current with changes in relevant federal laws. Personnel in the office are available to consult with faculty and staff members should the news media seek information about individual students or employees, or if they have questions about information that can or cannot be released.
All requests for personnel and University-related information utilizing provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act are requested in writing and must be directed to the Office of Media and Public Relations. Requests from the news media will be researched and answered by the staff. Requests for information from non-media sources will be logged by News and Public Information and referred to the appropriate University office for timely response and resolution. The University must respond to the requester within five workdays of its receiving the FOIA request.