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THE
Association for Texas University Professionals
the
TACT Quarterly eBulletin

Apr/May/Jun 05 Vol. LVII No. 4

Texas Association of College Teachers ~ Defending Academic Freedom

President's Column
Legislative Efforts
by Dr. Elizabeth Lewandowski, TACT President

It is my great pleasure to be serving you as President of TACT.  I hope that in the next two years we can work together to make Texas a better home for higher education and we can each renew within ourselves the desire to work both on campus and off for the betterment of our students and our profession.

The 79th Legislature left us all with a bit of a sour taste in our mouths.  In an effort to protect the state budget, many campuses are now facing cuts in both HEAF and general funding.  These cuts have been put in place at the same time that new state mandates are requiring more reporting.  Texas resident students will have to pay out of state tuition if they take too many hours beyond their degree plan (a punishment for taking higher education too seriously).

The news isn’t all bad.  Some campuses will be breaking ground on new construction, others will have funds for renovations.  Many of us will receive raises this fall.  As I write, the special session on education has begun and we all have hopes that some of the progress to be made will affect higher education in a positive fashion.

Where does that leave us?  TACT?  Each campus?  Each individual employee of higher ed in Texas?

Admittedly it would be very easy to throw up our hands and say, “It’s over for another two years.  Why bother?”  This would be a strategic error for us all.  While the regular session is over, a special session has begun.  When the special session is over, interim committees will be established and serious work preparing for the 80th legislature will begin.  In other words, it isn’t over !  Ever!!

What does that mean to you and me?  It means that the time for licking our wounds is over and the time to begin the new fight has begun.  At our summer TACT Board meeting, we prepared our 2005-2007 Strategic Plan.  We have begun planning activities for the 2005-2006 academic year – a fall meeting in Austin, spring regional meetings and campus meetings around the state.  We’ve begun discussion on the legislative strategy for the 80th legislature.  We’ve taken a serious look at our budget and the best way make our dollars work for higher education lobbying.

In the upcoming months, you’ll be hearing how you can help make a difference.  Your phone call to a legislator can be the one to make a difference.  Your letter to a legislator can be the one to tip the decision.  We are all very busy – our TACT study (1999) showed that we average working more than 55 hours a week.  Sometimes a busy day turns into a week before we notice how time has flown!  Right now, most of us are enjoying a slower pace with summer vacation, teaching and/or research.  Take a little time to evaluate what higher education means to you.  Ask yourself if you can afford 5 minutes to make a phone call or 10 minutes to write a letter to make a positive difference in higher education in Texas.

Can you afford not to do so?

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