eNewsletter from University of Illinois administration
March 2014
Campuses are the heart, UA is the backbone

Over the course of my nearly 40 years at the University of Illinois, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the University from virtually every angle – as a graduate student, as a faculty member, as a department head and dean, as a chancellor and, for the last two years, as president.


Our campuses are at the center of each of the University’s four core missions – that’s where we do the teaching, conduct the research, share our knowledge through public engagement and foster the innovation that promotes economic development. All other units, including University Administration, exist to support them, and their efforts to deliver on the University’s commitment to serve our state and nation.

That in no way diminishes the key role that University Administration plays. If campuses are the heart of the University, UA is the backbone – providing essential business and operational support, along with leadership that helps campuses forge a shared vision and promotes their interests through a single voice.


UA Unit Spotlight
Kathy McCarthy, assistant director for FOIA administration.
Kathy McCarthy, University Relations

Name: Kathy McCarthy, Assistant Director for FOIA Administration
Office: University Relations
Office Reports to: Office of the President
In Sum: Coordination of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for the University

What exactly does the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) obligate the University to do?
Under FOIA, all citizens have a right to access public records. Because the University is a public body, it is subject to this statute. Once a person submits a request to access certain records, we have five days to search, gather, and review the requested material. In certain limited circumstances, we may legally withhold certain information in University documents, but most records must be provided to a requestor. In 2013, the U of I provided almost 70,000 pages of documents in response to FOIA requests.

How is a FOIA processed and what role do you play?
University Relations assumed overall, University-wide coordination of FOIA processing in 2011 upon a recommendation in the Administrative Review and Restructuring final report. Our office takes in and logs all requests. I assign each to a coordinator, who contacts the office with responsive records and reviews and redacts according to the Act. I review all the records that are released as well as our response letters, coordinate with University legal counsel, serve as the liaison with the Public Access Counselor in the Attorney General’s office, and provide training on compliance with FOIA to groups and units across the University.

How many people work full-time responding to FOIAs?
I am the only U of I employee who works full-time responding to FOIAs. Fortunately I work with a great team of four – two in University Relations, one in Urbana, and one in Chicago – who coordinate FOIA records collection and review as one part of their job responsibilities. Of course, U of I employees across the institution provide records in response to requests. We could not comply with the law without their prompt cooperation.

How many FOIA requests did the U of I receive in 2013? Are they mostly from the media?
We received 621 requests in 2013. Of that number, 130 were from members of the media. Interestingly, we have found that the vast majority of requests received by the University are submitted by private citizens. The most commonly requested documents tend to be campus police reports and procurement records.

Are there particular times of the year when your office is most busy?
FOIA requests aren’t really seasonal. We have a steady flow throughout the year. We do see spikes when a hot topic is in the media.

Where did you work before you joined the U of I? Did you work on FOIAs there?
Before joining the U of I in 2011, I was an attorney in a private law firm that represented many municipalities, school districts, and community college districts in suburban Cook County. At that firm, I provided advice to clients on a variety of legal issues, including FOIA compliance.

Anything else we should know?
Yes! If you ever receive a FOIA request directly, please forward it on to foia@uillinois.edu and we will take care of it. If you have questions, call me at 217-333-6400.

UA News Briefs
DLM logo.
  • The final report (PDF) from the UA Review committee is available online. The UA Review home page outlines the process followed by the seven teams that reviewed most UA offices last year. Over the next weeks and months, UA will be implementing most of the recommendations included in the advisory committee final report.
  • Congratulations to UA staff who worked on the successful proposal for the $70 million Department of Defense award to establish the new Chicago-based public-private partnership called the Digital Lab for Manufacturing. DLM is a collaboration among more than 40 industrial partners, 500 supporting companies and organizations, and more than 20 higher education collaborators. UI LABS, a Chicago-based research and commercialization collaborative, is the host organization.

  • Congratulations to Marilyn Marshall in Academic Affairs who received a Special Recognition Award presented by the Illinois Association for Institutional Research (IAIR).
  • The office of the CIO released a new website this week. Update any hyperlinks to the new URL: uillinois.edu/CIO.
  • Sign up for email alerts from the Office of Business and Financial Services (OBFS). You can select categories of information based on the role you have within your office as well as your location.
  • Reminder to web team members in UA units: the cloud background has been retired so please make the necessary modifications to your pages so that they are consistent with the UA look and feel (PDF).


Save the Date

March 17: Statement of Economic Interest processing starts. Return your completed form to the Ethics Office.
May 14
: Board of Trustees meeting

Urbana campus calendar
Chicago campus calendar
Springfield campus calendar