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Presidents Message: Working Collectively to Improve Higher Education

We can accomplish much more together than any one of us can alone.

by James (Jim) Klein President, Texas Association of College Teachers

I hope this newsletter finds you and your family in good health and spirits. I am encouraged by the recent decline in pandemic numbers. Let’s hope this trend continues. Regarding higher education, I am encouraged at the Texas legislature’s decision to pass Senate Bill 52, which will allocate $3.3 billion for infrastructure projects at colleges and universities. These ‘capital construction assistance projects’ funds will allow institutions to address infrastructure issues that have been put off for years. Kudos to the Texas legislature for addressing this pressing issue and kudos to the Texas Association of College Teachers for regularly bringing this issue to the attention of state lawmakers. TACT’s accomplishment in this and other areas is due to your support, and I heartily thank you for your commitment to this organization and to the greater good that higher education can achieve.

The mission of TACT speaks to the importance of collective and collaborative effort. We can accomplish much more together than any one of us can alone. To do so, though, we must overcome the individualistic impulse promoted in American popular culture. The films of John Wayne (I know about him because I am old) and more recently Daniel Craig and countless others would have us believe that events are best directed by an individual acting alone. This impulse has a strong pull on me (I think I read one too many Louis L’Amour books when young.)

History, however, has shown otherwise: collective labor action by countless women and men forced the creation of the weekend in twentieth-century America; collaborations between many individuals and organizations achieved groundbreaking civil rights legislation in the 1960s; and collective efforts by young people are, even as I write, forcing governments around the world to come to terms with their contributions to climate change. Human beings are social animals. It is our nature to work together, and combined efforts allow us to do what no one of us could do alone.

Despite these facts, the cult of the individual remains strong in America. I suppose tales of the individual make for more entertaining, if misleading, films and streaming programs. In the interest of the greater good that is higher education, however, we need to work collectively and collaboratively. Obtaining needed funding for capital construction assistance projects is a great accomplishment, one that we should celebrate. This achievement also should further commit us to working through TACT and similarly aligned organizations. Join us in supporting higher education—at the state capitol, on your campus, and at campuses around Texas—for the betterment of society today and tomorrow. We need your perspective, your passion, and your expertise in this work. Together we can achieve much.

Best wishes for an enjoyable holiday season.

James (Jim) Klein President, Texas Association of College Teachers

Professor of History, Del Mar College

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