Indiana University

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Questions Related to Litigation, Complaints, or Contracts

Questions Related to Third Party Requests for Information

Questions Related to Students

Questions Related to Employees

General Information

What is the role of the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel?

The Office of the Vice President and General Counsel (OVPGC) serves as legal counsel for the University. We advise the Trustees and University Administration on all legal issues and serve as the point of contact on all legal matters involving the University. Our work includes negotiating and approving contracts and complex transactions where IU is a party; preventing and defending  lawsuits where IU is a party; and interpreting and advising on compliance obligations with federal, state and local laws and regulations, as well as industry standards and internal policies. When necessary, we engage outside legal counsel to assist in these matters. A detailed list of our practice areas can be found under the Legal Practice Areas tab on the website’s homepage.

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How can I contact OVPGC?

Our Bloomington office is located in Bryan Hall 211, 107 S. Indiana Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47405. The telephone number for our Bloomington office is (812) 855-9739. You may also e-mail our Administrative Secretary, Suzann Westerfield, at sleaster@iu.edu.

Our Indianapolis office is located in Fairbanks Hall, 340 West 10th Street, Suite 5100, Indianapolis, IN 46202. The telephone number for our Indianapolis office is (317) 274-7460. You may also e-mail our Legal Administrative Assistants, Kristy Muncy and Jackie Brooks, at kjmuncy@iupui.edu or jasbroo@iupui.edu.

Maps of these locations can be found under the Contact Us tab on the website’s homepage

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Which lawyer do I contact for my specific legal issue?

If you have a legal issue and wish to speak to one of IU’s attorneys, please contact our office, as listed above. Our office will assign an attorney to work with you.

For the Bloomington, Northwest, East, and Southeast campuses, please contact Kip Drew at (812)855-0009 or at ksdrew@indiana.edu.

For the South Bend, Kokomo, and Fort Wayne campuses contact Tom Gannon at (317)274-7460 or at tgannon@iu.edu.

For the IUPUI campus, please contact Joe Scodro at (317)274-7460 or at jscodro@iu.edu.

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Will my conversations with the OVPGC lawyer(s) be confidential?

Generally speaking, your conversations with us on matters involving University business will be privileged as to outside third parties; however, your conversations may be shared with other University Officials, as necessary. For more information, please see our Confidential & Privileged Communications with Legal Counsel section under Legal Practice Areas.

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Questions Related to Litigation, Complaints, or Contracts

I have been sued. Will the University represent me?

While this is determined on a case by case basis, if you have been sued in connection with your official duties as a University employee and you have acted lawfully and in good faith, you will likely be indemnified and defended by the University. “Official duties” include those duties and responsibilities that are part of the employee’s job description and authority.

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I need legal help for a personal matter. Will the OVPGC help me?

The OVPGC does not represent employees or students for personal matters, including their employment relationship with the University.

If you need help defending or otherwise responding to a legal matter, our office may be able to provide resources to help you locate another lawyer or organization to assist you.

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I have been asked to accept service of a complaint in connection with a lawsuit. What should I do?

Decline to accept the papers and direct the individual to the OVPGC. Unless you have expressly been appointed to do so, do not accept service of any legal documents on behalf of the University.  

If you have already accepted service, please contact the OVPGC immediately.

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I have received a subpoena, what should I do now?

The OVPGC is responsible for responding to subpoenas served on IU employees in the course and scope of their employment. IU faculty or staff members who receive a subpoena should forward it to the OVPGC as soon as it is received, and the attorneys in the OVPGC will help ensure that the University’s response is made pursuant to its legal obligations.

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I have been contacted by a local, state, or federal officer requesting information, serving a search warrant, or making other requests of me or my department.  What should I do?

The mission of the University Compliance Program is to further IU’s long-standing commitment to compliance with all applicable laws, policies, and regulations.  This commitment to compliance includes cooperation with all lawful inquiries, audits, inspections, and investigations by agencies of the federal, state, and local government (Regulatory Reviews).  Such inquiries may focus on reviews of a particular program, service, activity, or study that is funded by the government, or a program where the agency has oversight.

The University Compliance Program strives to provide access to the best resources available and can provide prompt assistance with Regulatory Reviews.  In the event of an unannounced audit or inspection or other non-routine Regulatory Review, please contact the Compliance Office, through the OVPGC.  Timing is of the essence when contacting the Compliance Office because most Regulatory Reviews require that responses be made within a short time frame.  Therefore, providing notice to the University Compliance Program regarding any unannounced and/or non-routine Regulatory Review is essential in the coordination of these efforts.

In the event an auditor or agent shows up unannounced at your office, here are key tips to remember:

  1. Be cordial – Let the auditor/agent know that the University’s intent is to cooperate with the government’s request.
  2. Verify credentials – ask for official identification and note down in writing the name of the individual(s), agency name, and agency contact information.
  3. Ask the auditor/agent if they can provide information regarding the nature of the request, audit, or inspection.
  4. Inform your supervisor and the Compliance Officer for your department or school and contact the University Compliance Office within the Office of Vice President and General Counsel.

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My department is in the process of negotiating a contract with a party outside the University.  Can I sign the contract?

By Resolution of The Board of Trustees, only the Treasurer of Indiana University or that person’s designee has the authority to sign contracts on behalf of the University. If you do not have a written delegation of authority from the Treasurer to sign contracts, you must either obtain such a delegation prior to signing the contract or you must send the contract to the OVPGC for review as a prerequisite for obtaining the Treasurer’s signature.

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I have received a request from a party outside the University to use material that is copyrighted by the University.  Should I respond to the request?

Unless you have been delegated the authority to grant such requests,   please forward the request to the OVPGC. We will work with you to secure the necessary copyright permission on behalf of The Board of Trustees.

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I have received a complaint from a staff or faculty member in my department regarding discrimination, how should I proceed?

Please contact the OVPGC or Indiana University’s Office of Affirmative Action upon receiving the complaint. On the IUPUI campus the relevant office is the IUPUI Office of Equal Opportunity.  Follow your department’s procedures for such a complaint, and be mindful that retaliation against the complaining party is strictly prohibited by federal and state law as well as university policy. 

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Questions Related to Third Party Requests for Information

I have received a request for information regarding the University or one of its employees, which I think may be covered by the State of Indiana’s Open Records law.  What should I do?

Do not respond to the request or turn over any records.  Direct the requestor to the OVPGC website, where he/she may fill out our Request for Public Record form.  Once the OVPGC receives the completed request form, we will ensure that the University’s response complies with our legal obligations.

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A reporter called me.  Do I need to answer his questions?

No.  You may respectfully decline to answer a reporter’s questions.  If the reporter would like to make an open records request, please direct him/her to our website so that the request may be made using our Request for Public Record form.   Please also refer the reporter to Associate Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations, Mark Land at mdland@iu.edu.

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I have received a request from the parent of a student who wishes to have access to information or records regarding their child.  Should I grant them access?

Educational institutions are prohibited from releasing personally identifiable information contained in a student’s education records to a third party, including parents, unless the student provides consent, the release is permitted under one of FERPA’s exceptions to consent, or the information is considered Directory Information (as defined by each Registrar).

If you are unsure whether the student has signed a FERPA release, or if you are unsure whether a FERPA release is necessary to disclose the requested information to the student’s parent(s), explain to the parent(s) that you cannot provide access to any information until you confirm that such a release has been signed. Please contact the Office of the Registrar to determine if a FERPA release has been signed.

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Questions Related to Students

I am planning on taking students on a field trip.  Do I need to get the students to sign anything prior to leaving?

Yes.  On our website we provide sample templates that fit most situations.  Find the template most directly applicable to your trip, fill in the specific information needed, and then send the completed template to the OVPGC for review and approval. 

Upon approval of the form by the OVPGC, obtain a signed copy of the approved form of release from each student going on the trip.  Any student who does not sign a form should not be allowed to participate in the trip. Please keep all signed releases in your department’s files for a minimum of two (2) years.

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Does the OVPGC ever hire law students or recent graduates?

Yes, please see our Fellowship and Internship Opportunities links.

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Questions Related to Employees

I made a good faith disclosure of suspected wrongful conduct within my Department. Do I have any sort of protection?

Yes.  Indiana state statute IC 21-39-3, along with University policy, protects reporting Individuals who make a good faith report from retaliatory academic or employment action, including discharge, reassignment, demotion, suspension, harassment, or other discrimination.

Good faith reporting is defined in University policy to be an allegation of wrongful conduct made by an Individual who believes that wrongful conduct may have occurred.  However, an allegation is not in good faith if it is made with reckless disregard for or willful ignorance of facts that would disprove the allegation.

Wrongful Conduct is defined in University policy to be a violation of applicable state and/or federal laws and regulations; a serious violation of University policy; the use of University property, resources, or authority for personal gain; or other non-University related purposes except as provided under University policy.

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