PORTLAND, Ore. — The University of Oregon has put two unnamed employees on leave after the illegal release of 22,000 pages of records from the president’s office.
The records weren’t reviewed to see whether releasing them would violate privacy laws, university spokesman Tobin Klinger said.
The material, in electronic form, was released to a professor who had sought it, Klinger told The Oregonian.
He said it includes correspondence between the university’s last four presidents and parents, students and faculty members but doesn’t contain information that would help an identity thief.
“I don’t want anybody to equate it to a financial institution having their records hacked and spewed all over the planet,” he said.
The school’s interim president, Scott Coltrane, made the announcement in an email sent out Tuesday night.
“The information was sent to a university professor, and we have already requested that the professor return the information and refrain from any public release of confidential information,” Coltrane wrote. “To our knowledge, only one record has been shared externally at this point.”
Michael Dreiling, president of the United Academics union that represents faculty and staff members, said the evening email was like nothing he’d seen in his 17 years at the university.
“It’s a mystery,” he said.
Oregon law requires public institutions such as the University of Oregon and state agencies to release information upon request.
But the public-records law exempts various types of information from disclosure, safeguarding personal privacy, trade secrets, personnel records, financial data and other sensitive material. Officials can redact confidential information before releasing documents.
Klinger said the information was released as officials transferred records from the president’s office to the archive, which happens routinely when presidents leave office.
Coltrane, a former provost, became interim president after President Michael Gottfredson resigned abruptly in August amid plunging donations, declining faculty morale and allegations of mishandling sexual violence. He was the UO’s fourth president in six years.