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TACT Quarterly eBulletin

January/February/March 2003 Vol. LV No. 3

Texas Association of College Teachers ~ Defending Academic Freedom

President's Column
How TACT Works For You
by Dr. Larry King, TACT President

“We Get What We Ask For”

My university has been involved in a search for a new Provost-Vice President for Academic Affairs. I attended interview sessions with all finalists for the position. Two gave strikingly similar answers to questions concerning budget cuts in higher education. Both said higher education is often one of the first areas to face cuts because we do a poor job communicating our mission and importance to legislators and the general public. We have not created a clear sense of value for higher education in our state and society. The candidates said, “We get what we ask for.” If we do not make a clear case for the central importance of higher education in our state and in our nation, we are asking to have our budgets cut.

Faculty devote their energies to teaching, research, and service and have little interest in educating their fellow citizens about the value of higher education. Too often we ask to be left alone to carry on our teaching or research in isolation. Administrators focus their attention on keeping the university running and neglect cultivating an understanding of the essential nature of higher education for our society and culture.

These candidates did not know it, but they were presenting an excellent argument for TACT membership. Texas’ faculty need to be active in educating legislators and their fellow Texans about our work and the benefits of higher education to the state. Isolating ourselves in our classrooms or labs is not an option, because by doing so, we seem disinterested and unapproachable. We must be passionately engaged in building the future of our state and communicate this passion to our fellow citizens. If we do not make a case for the support of higher education, we get what we ask for.

If higher education seems disengaged and unsuccessful, we get what we ask for. TACT provides faculty the opportunity to communicate the importance of our work for the future of our state. Through activities like TACT Legislative Days, visiting legislators in their district offices, testifying before legislative committees, speaking to community groups about higher- education issues, writing letters to the editor, and contributing guest editorials for local newspapers TACT members can become involved in building the case for higher education. TACT can provide the opportunity for us to ask for the support of our legislators and the public. Remember: “We get what we ask for.”

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