It’s not wholly surprising that the chair of the Finance Department of the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas would ask for an attorney general’s opinion on whether the Freedom of Information Act requires him to release the names, titles and salaries of people who work in that department at what is nominally a public university. Certain endeavors at UA have long functioned more as wholly owned subsidiaries of wealthy patrons than as public institutions.

Still, it’s comforting that the attorney general’s office, so far at least, still believes salaries — and private supplements — of public employees are open to public inspection. The issue here is likely the supplements, though they’ve long been required public knowledge for everyone from basketball coaches to poetry professors. The idea is, of course, that the public needs to know who might be supplementing pay of public employees who are able to direct research and shape reports on issues that might have public impact.

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