Presidents Message: Meet Personally with Texas Legislature
by James (Jim) Klein President, Texas Association of College Teachers
Greetings from the Texas Association of College Teachers! I hope this newsletter finds you and your loved ones in good health and spirits as we move into the holiday season. A central purpose of TACT is to meet regularly with members of the Texas legislature and/or their staff to discuss faculty perspectives on higher education in the state. Faculty traditionally have been reticent about engaging in such lobbying activities, but I find that this work provides faculty with a voice to policy makers (a report from the front lines of higher education, if you will) that they otherwise will not hear, much to the detriment of higher education and the greater good that it serves in our communities, state and nation.
On December 2 we have an opportunity to make that report from the front lines to the Texas legislature. TACT will facilitate lobby meetings with legislative staffers to discuss a variety of issues facing higher education with an eye on the 88th Texas legislature which will convene next January. I strongly urge you to join us in this endeavor at the Capitol, whether you have engaged in such work previously or not. We will be mentored at the Capitol by Chuck Hempstead, longtime lobbyist extraordinaire for TACT who is retiring from this position at the end of December to enjoy some well-earned time off. We also will be joined by our newly hired lobbyist Beaman Floyd, whom I believe will provide excellent service to TACT in that capacity.
Our topics of discussion will follow the legislative agenda issues linked from the TACT website home page. As you will note and as I have mentioned in previous addresses, the Texas legislature (based on comments by the Lieutenant Governor last spring) likely will consider a bill in the next legislative session that will remove tenure for new faculty hires at Texas public institutions of higher education and will separately consider a bill that will prohibit the teaching of critical race theory at those institutions. Higher education needs the legislature to hear our voice on these issues. Join us if you can.
As noted in the legislative agenda, we also will discuss campus safety issues, particularly those shaped by aging campus infrastructures that threaten public health. We also will recommend increases to higher education funding to raise faculty and staff salaries in response to the recent spike in prices and will urge the equitable distribution of research funding to regional universities as well as flagship institutions.
Join us in Austin Friday, December 2 if you can. We typically meet at 8:30 at the rotunda and complete our scheduled meetings by noon. If you plan to join us, please contact Liz Williams at the TACT office at Staff@TACT.org so that we can plan for the size of the group attending.
Lastly, I wish to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Chuck Hempstead for his many decades of service to higher education through TACT. His professionalism and understanding of the Texas legislative process is second to none and has provided a model that I and others strive to emulate. His dedication to higher education is such that he has provided TACT with his invaluable services at a cost below the established norms for his extensive abilities. His mentorship of faculty will benefit higher education for years into the future. Chuck, thank you so much for your ample work.
As we near the close of this semester and calendar year, I wish you and your families happy holidays and look forward to connecting with you again in the new year. Do good work when you can and make time for rest and relaxation—vital for the body and soul. TACT and Texas need you.
James (Jim) Klein
Professor of History, Del Mar College
President, Texas Association of College Teachers