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MOONEY ET AL. v. TEMPLE UNIVERSITY COMMONWEALTH SYSTEM HIGHER EDUCATION BOARD TRUSTEES (06/28/72)

decided: June 28, 1972.

MOONEY ET AL., APPELLANTS,
v.
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY OF THE COMMONWEALTH SYSTEM OF HIGHER EDUCATION BOARD OF TRUSTEES



Appeals from decree of Commonwealth Court, No. 199 C. D. 1971, in case of Thomas J. Mooney, individually and as guardian ad litem of Temple University Student Senate, and Michael A. Moore and Peter Bachrach v. Board of Trustees of Temple University of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education et al.

COUNSEL

William T. Hangley, with him William H. Ewing, and Ewing & Cohen, for appellants.

Michael Churchill, with him Peter Platten, and Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, for appellees.

Robert J. Reinstein, Assistant Professor of Law, Temple University and Samuel Polsky, Professor of Law, Temple University, attorneys for amici curiae.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Manderino.

Author: Roberts

[ 448 Pa. Page 425]

This appeal requires us to decide whether Temple University of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education*fn1 is a state "agency" for purposes of the Inspection and Copying Records Act,*fn2 thereby subjecting it to the requirement of making all its "public records" "open for examination and inspection by any

[ 448 Pa. Page 426]

    citizen of the Commonwealth."*fn3 We agree with the Commonwealth Court that the Legislature, in designating Temple as a part of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education in order to enable Temple to receive increased financial assistance from the Commonwealth, did not transform Temple into a state "agency" for the purposes of the act. We affirm the decree of the Commonwealth Court.

Appellants, students at Temple, a member of the faculty, and the University Student Senate through its guardian ad litem,*fn4 commenced an original action in the Commonwealth Court seeking to compel appellees, the board of trustees, to make available for inspection "[d]etailed financial and budgetary information; minutes of Board of Trustees meetings; and minutes of meetings of committees of the Board of Trustees, including the Executive Committee."*fn5 The board of trustees had refused to honor appellants' requests for detailed financial information. The board did, however, make available "excerpts of meetings of defendant trustees and subcommittees of defendant trustees."*fn6 Appellants base their cause of action both on the Inspection and Copying Records Act and common law.*fn7 Appellees filed preliminary objections requesting dismissal,

[ 448 Pa. Page 427]

    inter alia, on the ground that Temple is not an "agency" within the Inspection and Copying Records Act. The preliminary objections were sustained by the Commonwealth Court in a unanimous opinion by Judge Crumlish. Mooney v. Temple University Board of Trustees, 4 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 392, 285 A.2d 909 (1972). This appeal followed.

The Inspection and Copying Records Act provides that "[e]very public record of an agency shall, at reasonable times, be open for examination and inspection by any citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." Act of June 21, 1957, P. L. 390, § 2, 65 P.S. § 66.2. An "agency" is defined as: "Any department, board, or commission of the executive branch of the Commonwealth, any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, or any state or municipal authority or similar organization created by or pursuant to a statute which declares in substance that such organization performs or has for its purpose the performance of an essential governmental function." Id. § 1, 65 P.S. § 66.1(1) (emphasis added).*fn8

[ 448 Pa. Page 428]

In order to satisfy the statutory definition of a state "agency", appellants ...


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