Attorney General's Opinion 1974-75 #584

April 21, 1975

Member, Senate of Virginia

74-75 584

This will acknowledge receipt of your recent letter wherein you inquire as follows:

"It has been brought to my attention that there is a General Professional Advisory Committee of the State Council on Higher Education and a Council of College and/or University Presidents of all State supported Colleges. My inquiry is whether these two groups are [excepted] from the Freedom of Information Act, and by what authority."

Section 2.1-341 (a), Code of Virginia (1960), as amended, sets forth the types of public bodies or governmental entities to which the requirements of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act are to be applicable:

"(a) meeting or meetings' means the meetings, when sitting as a body or entity, or as an informal assemblage of the constituent membership, with or without minutes being tai: en, whether or not votes are cast, of one authority, board, bureau, commission, district or agency or of any political subdivision of the State, including cities, towns and counties; municipal councils, governing bodies of counties, school boards and plannin commissions; anf other organizations corporations or agencies in the state."

The state Council of Higher Education is unquestionably an agency of the State, within the intendment of §2.1-341(a), and is, therefore, subject to the requirements of the Act.

The General Professional Advisory Committee is a committee established by the State Council and serves the State Council on a continuing basis in an advisory capacity. In view of these facts, I am of the opinion that the General Professional Advisory Committee is an organiaztion or agency in the State "supported wholly or principally by public funds" as set forth in §2.1-341 (a) and, consequentry, is subject to the Act.

The Council of Presidents, on the other hand, was established by the Presidents themselves, rather than the State Council, the purpose of discussing problems common to chief executives of higher educational institutions. It has no official status as a creature of the State Council and consequently is not an organization or agency in the State "supported wholly or principally by public funds." I am, therefore, of the opinion that the Council of Presidents is not a public body within the Act's coverage.