October 16, 2002
The October 16 ACF meeting took place at Glenville State College. Guests included Bruce Flack and Phil Reale. The following agenda items were discussed and actions taken:
1) Advice on Lobbying the WV Legislature: Phil Reale, lawyer, lobbyist, and chief of staff for a former WV governor, spoke to the ACF about interacting with the Legislature. The ACF itself cannot hire a lobbyist; however, WV higher education faculty and staff can be represented by a lobbyist. Reale gave some practical advice about how to make an impact with legislators. His straight talking can be summarized in three concepts: a. education, b) coalition building, and c) consensus making.
a) Education: Reale stressed that WV legislators, in general, do not think highly of higher education and understand little about what exactly faculty does, so our first priority is to change their perception. We need to help them understand that faculty are on the "front line" of higher education--that we are indeed the "engine that runs the machine." Reale thought the ACF pamphlet was a terrific idea--both to inform the public and the legislature about our service to the State but also to set forth our 2003 legislative priorities. b) Coalition Building: Faculty have to determine who our allies are and who will be effective partners in achieving our goals. We have to identify and form relationships with those in the legislature who will listen favorably to our concerns and suggestions; then we must build coalitions with other groups. The ACF determined that the HEPC is our strongest partner in WV higher education. ACCE is another obvious coalition partner, as are institutional Boards of Directors and local Senates. All of these groups must work cooperatively and closely as difficult days approach the State. c) Achieving Consensus: Consensus is achieved, Reale said, though keeping the message simple and through repetition. Constituencies must all say the same thing--we cannot appear divided. Also, we must keep our message positive and proactive, never "whining" or condescending. After legislative contacts are made, we should follow up with thanks and something in writing to serve as a record. We should keep our focus on the "key players" as we approach any issue. We should gather our facts and distill them into digestible bites. Faculty Senates can endorse issues, make resolutions, and publicize issues with their constituencies, as well as make contacts with local legislators (John Doyle, for example, in Shepherd's case). All Faculty Senates, Reale suggested, should form "Legislative Advocacy Committees" to organize and to speak for faculty. Strong and representative Faculty Senates are central in presenting faculty concerns to the Legislature, and to the extent possible, consistent themes ought to be heard from institution to institution (see below "WV Higher Education Faculty Legislative Concerns").
In summary, Reale said that two central questions must be addressed by faculty, if their voices are to be heard in statewide debates about higher education issues: first, how to organize our constituency and second, how to communicate our interests to the Legislature. These tasks will be a challenge, Reale noted, since traditionally WV higher education faculty has not involved itself in legislative issues in West Virginia. Reale suggested at least a few of the issues we chose to take up with the Legislature should be "achievable"--"winning is important," both for our credibility and for the credibility of those legislators who may become proponents of our issues. Reale, who stressed again the crucial position of faculty in the processes of higher education, cautioned that our disengagement or disinterestedness was a mistake.
2) ACF Brochure: Shurbutt shared the galley proof of the ACF brochure so that the group could refine and polish before printing. The ACF thanked Tim Haines for his help with the brochure. The brochure should be ready for distribution within the next few weeks. In addition to a stack of finished brochures, a black and white master copy will be sent to each ACF member so that printing costs can be shared. The brochure will be used primarily as a legislative tool, but also to distribute to boards of governors, community, and campus groups as a way to disseminate information about what WV higher education faculty does, its contribution to the development of the State, and its legislative concerns. Moore asked that the four 2003 legislative concerns listed on the back of the ACF brochure be affirmed by all Faculty Senates so that the ACF might present a united front in its discussions with legislators and HEPC members:
1. Achieving legislation to permit those faculty eligible to accrue sick leave to participate in the Catastrophic Leave Bank (WV Code 18B-9-5); 2. Achieving "Incremental Salary Increases Based on Years of Service," comparable to other "state employees" (WV Code 5-5-2); 3. Achieving legislation that will address the rising cost of health insurance (PEIA), which, in some cases, has resulted in actual salary decline; 4. Achieving legislation that would allow higher education faculty and staff to serve in the legislature, a right currently enjoyed by public school teachers.
3) Evaluation of Higher Education Administrators: Connie Moore shared copies of the redraft of the evaluation policy for administrators, which the HEPC had asked the ACF to submit. Some additional refinement of language was suggested by the group.
4) Improving Communication between Faculty and Boards of Governors: Moore asked that all ACF members become a presence at local BOG meetings, if not as members then as regular "attendees." She reminded the group that the Chancellor has consistently stressed the growing importance of local boards of governors in the oversight and governing of each institution. As we feel our way through this new higher education system of governance, it is important, Moore said, that the faculty voice be heard. Moore suggested that Faculty Senates establish routine conversation with faculty BOG representatives, as a way to share information and keep the faculty informed and involved in local governance.
5) Upcoming Issues of ACF Concern: a) faculty workloads, b) low productivity programs, c) budget reduction strategies, d) interacting with the Legislature.
The next ACF meeting will be November 14 at West Liberty State College.
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