UNT System

The UNT System building in downtown Dallas.

The Office of General Counsel for the University of North Texas System again declined to release any portion of a brand audit document — but system officials now say they are considering releasing the information.

The document, prepared by outside firm Carnegie Dartlet, cost $142,000 and looks at all UNT schools, including the flagship campus in Denton. Once it was completed, the Denton Record-Chronicle requested the document, and the Texas Attorney General’s Office said the university did not have to release the document but did not bar UNT from releasing it.

The Record-Chronicle requested the document for a second time May 29 after a new state Senate bill rolled back some of the provisions that the Texas Attorney General’s Office cited in allowing the university to withhold the document.

Despite the legal department’s decision, UNT System officials are considering the release of some brand audit materials, said Paul Corliss, a spokesman for the system.

“Earlier this week the marketing/communication leads from UNT, UNT Health Science Center, UNT Dallas and UNT System met to discuss the release of brand study materials,” he said in an email. “We are reviewing next steps with our respective leaders and expect to move forward with the release of the brand study materials in the near future.”

Lindsey Bartula, assistant general counsel, responded to the second request for the document after a Wednesday news story said the office had not responded to the request.

“In view of the Attorney General’s May 24, 2019 determination that the brand audit is excepted from disclosure, your most recent request falls within the category of information approved by the Attorney General for exception,” the letter states.

The fact that the legal department declined to provide a redacted version of the document shows the university is unwilling to work with public records, said Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

“That sounds like laziness,” she said. “Surely there are parts of it that they don’t really worry about it being a competitive disadvantage, even a table of contents or a basic piece of information about it that might be helpful for the public to understand. If they don’t want to go through and release even that, it makes you question if they just don’t want to do any work or deal with it.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @jennafduncan.

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