Compliance and Ethics
Mississippi Public Records Act
Mississippi law (Miss. Code Ann. § 25-61-1) requires that public entities, including The University of Southern Mississippi, provide access to or copies of public records in response to a written request.
Public records include books, records, papers, accounts, letters, maps, photographs, etc. possessed by the University and used in conducting public business.
Timeframe for Compliance
The law requires a public entity that receives public records request to comply with a written request within one day of the receipt unless the governing body for that public entity has adopted a written policy extending the time for compliance for up to, but not to exceed, seven working days. The University follows IHL Policy 301.0804, which guarantees responses to public records requests within seven working days.
Exceptions to Disclosure
Despite the mandate for open disclosure of public records, there are a number of exceptions which would limit the disclosure. For example, academic records, personnel files, and trade secrets are exempt from disclosure.
Public Records Officer Designation
The Chief Communications Officer has been designated as the Public Records Officer for the University.
Submitting a Public Records Request
Who Can Process the Request
All public records requests must be submitted to the Public Records Officer. Any person contacting a University department in person, via telephone, or via e-mail to request access to any University records should be advised that all requests must be submitted to the Public Records Officer. Under no circumstances should a department grant or deny any request for access to records.
Sending a Request
In order to request public records from Southern Miss, all public records requests must be dated, signed by the requestor, and transmitted in one of the following ways to the University’s Public Records Officer:
- personally delivered to the Office of University Communications, Jones Hall on the Hattiesburg campus;
- mailed to The University of Southern Mississippi, Office of University Communications, 118 College Drive #5016, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001; or
emailed to the Office of University Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information That Must Be Included in the Public Records Request
Additionally, the request must identify the specific information sought and include the name of the requestor, the address of the requestor, and the current contact information of the requestor.
Cost of Request
Requestors will be charged for the actual cost of searching for, reviewing and, if necessary, redacting exempt information from public records. Likewise, requestors will be charged for photocopies of requested documents as well as actual costs of mailing, including the cost of the shipping container. The University requires payment in advance via cash, check or money order, for all costs as noted above before providing copies or access to records.
Questions related to public records at The University of Southern Mississippi should be directed to the Office of General Counsel at 601.266.4466.