292 A.2d 395 (Pa. 1972), 272, Mooney v. Board of Trustees of Temple University of Com. System of Higher Ed.

Docket Nº:Appeal of Peter BACHRACH et al. in No. 272.
Citation:292 A.2d 395, 448 Pa. 424
Opinion Judge:Author: Roberts
Party Name:Thomas J. MOONEY, individually and in his own right, et al., Plaintiff, v. BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF TEMPLE UNIVERSITY OF the COMMONWEALTH SYSTEM OF HIGHER EDUCATION et al., Defendants (two cases).
Case Date:June 28, 1972
Court:Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
 
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Page 395

292 A.2d 395 (Pa. 1972)

448 Pa. 424

Thomas J. MOONEY, individually and in his own right, et al., Plaintiff,

v.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF TEMPLE UNIVERSITY OF the COMMONWEALTH

SYSTEM OF HIGHER EDUCATION et al., Defendants (two cases).

Appeal of Peter BACHRACH et al. in No. 272.

Appeal of TEMPLE UNIVERSITY STUDENT SENATE in No. 295.

Nos. 272, 295.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

June 28, 1972.

Page 396

[448 Pa. 425] William H. Ewing, William T. Hangley, Ewing & Cohen, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Peter Platten, Michael Churchill, Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, Philadelphia, for appellee.

[448 Pa. 424] Before JONES, C.J., and EAGEN, O'BRIEN, ROBERTS, POMEROY, NIX and MANDERINO, JJ.

[448 Pa. 425] OPINION OF THE COURT

ROBERTS, Justice.

This appeal requires us to decide whether Temple University of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education 1 is a state 'agency' for purposes of the Inspection and Copying Records Act, 2 thereby subjecting it to the requirement of making all its 'public records' 'open for examination and inspection by any [448 Pa. 426] citizen of the Commonwealth.' 3 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, 4 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.' 5 The board of trustees has 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

Page 397

trustees.' 6 Appellants base their cause of action both on the Inspection and Copying Records Act and common law. 7 Appellees filed preliminary objections requesting dismissal[448 Pa. 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.Cmwlth. 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). 8

[448 Pa. 428]

Page 398

In order to satisfy the statutory definition of a state 'agency,' appellants must show that Temple is [448 Pa. 429] a 'State or municipal authority or similar organization. . . .' 9 We must reject the contention that Temple, a non-profit corporation chartered for educational purposes, has become 'similar' to a 'State or municipal authority' 10 solely because of increased financial assistance from the Commonwealth.

[448 Pa. 430] Temple was originally chartered as a non-profit corporation for educational purposes in 1888. 11 In 1907 the charter was amended to accord Temple University status. 12 In 1965, the Legislature passed the Temple University--Commonwealth Act. 13 The act amended Temple's corporate charter 'by changing the name of Temple University to 'Temple University--of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education . . ." 14 and further declared it 'to be the purpose of this act to extend Commonwealth opportunities for higher education by establishing Temple University as an instrumentality of the Commonwealth to serve as a State-related

Page 399

institution in the Commonwealth system of higher education.' 15 More important, the act also provided that Temple 'shall continue as a corporation for the same purposes as, and with all rights and privileges heretofore granted to Temple University. . . .' 16

We conclude, as did the Commonwealth Court, that this latter declaration reveals an express legislative intent to preserve Temple's status as a non-profit corporation chartered for educational purposes. The receipt by Temple of increased state financial aid no more transforms Temple into a state 'agency' than the receipt of federal funds can make Temple an agency of the federal government. A review of the Temple University[448 Pa. 431] --Commonwealth Act further supports our conclusion.

Appellants rely on various provisions of the Temple University--Commonwealth Act to bolster their contentions. They emphasize that the act altered the board of trustees by providing for appointment of four trustees respectively by the Governor, the President pro tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House. 17 Nevertheless, these twelve Commonwealth trustees remain only a one third minority of the board's total number of thirty-six trustees.

The majority of non-public trustees clearly retains the powers to manage and control the University. The act in its legislative findings describing Temple's status prior to passage of the act specifically declares that 'Temple University owns and maintains land, buildings, and other facilities which are used, together with land and buildings owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for higher education, Which land, buildings, and other facilities are under the entire control and management of the board of trustees. . . .' 18 The Legislature then expressly directs that '(t)he entire management, control and conduct of the instructional, administrative, and financial affairs of the university is hereby vested in the board of trustees.' 19 Additionally, the act provides that '(t)he board may exercise all the powers and franchises of the university and make by-laws for their own government, as well as for the university.' 20

The act also directs that '(i)n accordance with legislative appropriations made as provided by law, the Commonwealth may, By agreement with the board of [448 Pa. 432] trustees, acquire lands, erect and equip buildings, and provide facilities for the use of the university.' 21 Had the Legislature intended to transfrom Temple into a state 'agency,' it would be hardly necessary to require that the Legislature reach an agreement with the board of trustees before it can expand or alter Temple's facilities. This requirement further supports the conclusion that Temple is not a state 'agency' for present purposes.

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