10.04 Examination of Public Records
To specify disclosure policies of public records by UNI in accordance with Chapter 22 of the Iowa Code.
Chapter 22 of the Iowa Code governs the examination of public records. Entitled “Examination of Public Records (Open Records),” it outlines the provisions governing open records. UNI’s public record policy is intended to comply with this chapter of the Iowa Code, which may be found here: Iowa Code Ch. 22.
Public Records: For the purposes of this policy, “Public Records” is defined in Chapter 22 and generally includes all records or other information stored or preserved in any medium belonging to the university, including all records relating to the investment of public funds. See Iowa Code section 22.1(3).
Although the definition of public records is broad, it has some limitations. Not all records relating to the operation of UNI are subject to disclosure (for example, confidential records, discussed below). A person’s right to examine certain documents is limited to the document itself, not access to the computer or other system on which the document is stored. The Iowa Open Records law relates to existing records or documents; the university is not obligated to create a document in response to an open records request.
Confidential Records: Iowa Code Chapter 22 lists over 50 exemptions to public records disclosure. Records exempt from disclosure under Chapter 22 generally include:
- Students’ personal information (also protected by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA))
- Confidential personnel records (with certain limited exceptions)
- Medical records
- Trade Secrets
- Reports to UNI which, if released, would give advantage to competitors and serve no public purpose
- Specified police records
- Security related information
- Additional confidential records as listed in Iowa Code section 22.7.
The list of confidential records in Chapter 22 of the Iowa Code is found in Iowa Code section 22.7.
Requesting Records: Any person can make a public records request. The requester is not required to provide reasons for the request. The university is required to respond to open records requests in a reasonably timely manner. Requests for records can be made to any employee of UNI, but will be processed or facilitated through the UNI University Relations office. The University Secretary has designated the Director of University Relations as the UNI Custodian to handle Open Records requests and release records.
Questions relating to public/open records requirements or public records requests may be directed to the Director of University Relations or their designee at:
E Bartlett 114
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0392
Reasonable Charges: Iowa Code Section 22.3 permits the university to charge a reasonable fee for the copying and providing of records. As such, UNI assesses the cost of this process to the person desiring to examine, receive, or copy the records. The cost is prohibited from exceeding the actual cost of producing the records. Advance payment may be required before public records are provided.
UNI’s fee schedule may be found here: https://publicrecords.uni.edu/fees-obtaining-public-records.
UNI Public Records webpage -- https://publicrecords.uni.edu/
Other UNI policies relating to records:
Office of University Counsel, approved October 18, 2022
University Council, approved February 13, 2023
President and President’s Cabinet, approved February 27, 2023
[Last reviewed and/or updated: 2/2023, 7/1998]