Professor reappointed to Virginia's Freedom of Information Advisory Council
June 15, 2004
W. Wat Hopkins of Blacksburg, associate professor of communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been reappointed to another four-year term on Virginia's Freedom of Information (FOI) Advisory Council by William J. Howell, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates.
The FOI council was created in 2000 by the General Assembly with nearly unanimous support of the legislature. Hopkins is the only university professor on the council and fills an at-large seat reserved simply for a citizen of the commonwealth.
Hopkins specializes in free-speech issues. He recently published an article on libel law in the Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Journal, and an article on the cross-burning case Virginia v. Black is due to be published this summer by Hastings Communication and Entertainment Law Journal. His fourth book, "Uninhibited, Robust and Wide Open Debate" - The Marketplace of Ideas and Freedom of Expression, is due to be published next year. The book examines the history and effectiveness of the marketplace of ideas theory as a model for protecting expression.
He also is editor and co-author of the textbook Communication and the Law. The textbook has been revised annually since 1998. More than 30 universities adopted the 2004 edition.
Hopkins also is a member of the board of directors of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, a non-profit statewide organization dedicated to encouraging open government.
The FOI council was created in 2000 by the General Assembly with nearly unanimous support of the legislature. Hopkins is the only university professor on the council and fills an at-large seat reserved for a citizen of the commonwealth.
The council was designed to encourage and facilitate compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. It is intended to provide advisory opinions on FOIA issues, to provide training, to publish educational materials, and to report on FOIA issues and concerns to the governor and the General Assembly. The governor, speaker of the house, and the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections may appoint members to the council. The librarian of Virginia and the attorney general or his designee also are members by statute.
The Speaker of the House also appoints a member of the House of Delegates to serve on the council. Last week, Howell appointed Del. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, to the seat.
Using the council as a go-between helps to reduce the adversarial stance between the government and persons requesting information. People who have asked for information and been denied it can go to the council instead of taking legal steps to obtain the information.
Hopkins teaches journalism and communication law courses in the department of communication. He also edits the quarterly journal Communication Law and Policy. Hopkins also is a member of the Montgomery County School Board.
Hopkins received his bachelor's degree from Western Carolina University, and both his master's and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.