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UM professor demands documents from program prioritization process

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MISSOULA -

A University of Montana professor is pressuring the school to release information about the program prioritization.

A prioritization task force recently reviewed more than 400 UM programs to identify those that could be drastically changed or eliminated as a way to make up a budget shortfall. 

Professor Mehrdad Kia, head of the University of Montana's Central and Southwest Asian Studies program, is requesting documents from UM's task force.

He wants meeting minutes, discussion points, everything that went into the prioritization process.

Kia said the process, and ultimately the priority status given to each program, was too secretive.

He also said he didn't know the members of the task force or how they were making decisions.
Kia added the task force members seemed random and he felt they were not experts and he said some are not currently associated with UM.

Kia and his attorney, Quentin Rhoades, want to send a message to UM that the process was misconducted.

“We are not going to take closed meetings, secretive meetings that are based on secretive decisions in secretive meetings anymore. We demand a new culture of transparency openness public participation in each meeting that you hold. The University of Montana is not an island surrounded by a secret world. It's part of this community,” said Kia.

Kia and his lawyer are continuing to look into Montana law about open meetings and public participation.    

UM Communications Director Paula Short said the university did receive the open records request and at this time the school's legal team is sorting through the request. 

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