December 2011 eBulletin

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Volume LXV Number 2
October/November/December 2011
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
October/November/December 2011 - Volume LXV Number 2
In this quarter’s TACT newsletter...
Page 3 Letter from the President
by Peter Hugill
TACT Board of Directors 2011-2012 President Peter Hugill Texas A&M University Past-President Gary Coulton University of Texas San Antonio VP of Financial Affairs Frank Fair Sam Houston State University VP of Membership Mark Gaus Sam Houston State University VP of Legislative Affairs Cindy Simpson Sam Houston State University Directors At Large Elizabeth Lewandowski Midwestern State University Allen Martin University of Texas - Tyler Debra Price Sam Houston State University Executive Director Chuck Hempstead (512) 419-9275
Page 5 Executive Director’s Report
by Chuck Hempstead
Page 6 Interview with Representative Donna Howard Page 9 Holiday Greeting and Membership Drive Page 10 If we are “Academically Adrift...” in what direction should we sail now?
by Frank Fair by Frank Fair
Page 13 In the News: A TACT Member Responds Page 14 TACT Legislative Update
by Cindy Simpson
Page 16 Pictures from the Fall Conference Page 17 GRF Contributions Page 18 Membership
TACT
Texas Association of College Teachers 5750 Balcones Dr., Suite 201 Austin, Texas 78731 tact@bizaustin.rr.com [p] (512) 419-9275 [f] (512) 873-7423
Copyright © 2011 by the Texas Association of College Teachers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be produced in any form without permission; Chuck Hempstead, Editor.
TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
President’s Letter
by Peter Hugill TACT President
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As many of you are aware Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst and Speaker of the House Joe Straus recently established a Joint Committee to inquire into the governance of higher education in the State of Texas. On the House side this is chaired by Representative Dan Branch and on the Senate side by Senator Judith Zaffirini. Senator Kirk Watson is also on the Joint Committee. Several of the TACT Board, myself included, visited with staffers from the offices of Senators Zaffirini and Watson at the joint meeting with AAUP and TCFS this past October. Much of the reason for this Joint Committee was the high level of problems caused by the appointment by Governor Perry of persons associated with the Texas Public Policy Foundation to the Boards of the University of Texas and Texas A&M University. Although the TPPF has put forward a few useful ideas its “Seven Breakthrough Solutions” seem designed more to hinder and harm higher education than to help it. The TACT Board is, in general, of the opinion that the Joint Committee is well aware of the problems and seems to be working to improve governance at our Universities. But there are other Boards that are causing problems for our Universities, with at least one of which I have become familiar of late. A recent,
worrisome development has been the attempt by the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists (TBPG) to force all Geoscientists in the state to be licensed under their rules (I’m in the College of Geosciences at TAMU). In its first iteration these rules would have required licensure for any public contact, including teaching. Most Engineering Departments require a small number of their faculty be licensed by their professional organizations, mostly to testify in public hearings. At first glance this may seem no different, but, despite its name, the TBPG is NOT a professional organization of Geoscientists but a Board of three public and six professional members that came into existence in 2001 and which has been entirely appointed by Governor Perry. The Board states its goals as to protect public health, safety, welfare and the state’s natural resources by ensuring that only qualified persons carry out the public practice of geoscience, and it was initially set up to deal with oil and gas issues. Only two of the current the Board have Ph.D.s. The claim is that: “Licensure is a means to protect the public, and the licensed profession, from unqualified and unethical practitioners of the profession. Licensing establishes a degree of legal accountability for the work product of the regulated
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TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
President’s Letter (cont’d.)
practitioners. The State legislation establishing a licensure program defines basic experience and educational requirements that all licensees must meet. The legislation also sets civil penalties that can be enforced on licensees determined to have violated the practice and ethical standards required by the legislation.” So what is the problem? In its recent actions the Board attempted to bring climate change under its aegis, and it was clear to members of the Jackson School of Geosciences at UT and the TAMU College of Geosciences that this, plus the requirement that all Geoscientists be licensed, was a first step to restricting academic speech in such controversial areas as climate change and fracking technology for natural gas. Although a great deal of pressure from the academic community has been brought to bear on the Board and they have backed down somewhat, they have by no means abandoned their positions, which are currently tabled. My concern goes, however, much deeper than the TBPG. There are several other Boards going under the title of Texas Board of Professional … What concerns me is to what extent other such Boards may also be being used to control academic speech in the state. Please contact me with further information.
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TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
Executive Director’s Report
by Chuck Hempstead TACT Executive Director
Wow! Has TACT ratcheted up its activities since coming off a successful legislative session? Remember, most policy changes are at the margins, and we claim a handful from this past summer. Guns on campus, more money into TEXAS Grants (and providing preference to merit-based applications), slowing the outcomes-based funding proposal, maintaining ORP local supplements – it was a good session considering the circumstances. As we do at least twice each year, your State Board Members recently pounded the pavement at the Capitol visiting with legislators and their staffers about issues of importance to you. While it is a bit premature to adopt our legislative agenda for next session, we did prepare a “leave behind” you can review; it is attached to Cindy Simpson’s legislative article. We also showed them data that while Texas had been making progress in narrowing the gap between our salaries and the average of the top ten most populous states, that positive trend has reversed. That afternoon, TACT honored State Representative Donna Howard as its Legislator of the Year, primarily for her work on the Higher Education Committee in keeping student concerns at the top of the discussions. Be sure to read my interview with her beginning on page 6. . . . Shifting gears for a moment, are you aware that at each Coordinating
Board Meeting, they entertain a “Major Policy Discussion” in order to delve into issues that might not otherwise receive sufficient attention? This past meeting, board members and audience were treated to a live streaming of Richard Arum, Professor of Sociology and Education at New York University, discussing his findings outlined in his acclaimed book, Academically Adrift. TACT Board Member Frank Fair addresses some of these issues elsewhere in this newsletter, but I wanted to share a few thoughts from a legislative advocacy perspective. Circling back, one of the reasons Representative Howard was honored by TACT is her insistence on quality in higher education. Too many influential individuals at the Capitol have expanded the goals of Closing the Gaps to mean “derrieres in seats.” Recruit ‘em and graduate ‘em. Preferably for $10,000. Who’s talking about what they learn that will benefit them and their employers? Arum’s talking about it. He’s saying too many students aren’t improving their critical thinking and writing skills. He’s saying students learn when faculty demand rigorous academic activities, like studying, for Pete’s sake. TACT talks about academic quality at the State Capitol. And I want to thank the professors who talk about it on your campuses.
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TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
An Interview
with Representative Donna Howard
by Chuck Hempstead the TACT Fall Conference: October 28, 2011 State Representative Donna Howard sat down with eBulletin staff after receiving the 2011 TACT Legislator of the Year Award for her student-centered service on the House Committee on Higher Education and refusal to go along with appropriations levels which underfund the rapid growth of higher education. – Ed. 1. Representative Howard, we are aware of your interest in education, including having served on the school board, but when you were elected to the Legislature, what made you want to specialize in higher education policy? My first full term in office, Speaker Tom Craddick appointed me to the Higher Education Committee. This was a good fit for my district because I represent a large number of university employees – especially faculty – as well as Austin which is home to the University of Texas. It was also a good fit with my nursing background because addressing the nursing shortage begins with increasing the number of slots available for nursing students. 2. You were very involved during this past session in helping restore TEXAS Grant scholarship money that had been slashed from the first draft budget. This was part of TACT’s legislative agenda, including the new provision that the limited funds be made available based on merit – awarded to those most likely to succeed. What can you tell us about that process and your success? I began looking at the best way to prioritize the award of our limited TEXAS Grant funds in the 81st Legislative Session. I filed HB 3276 which would have given priority to those students who demonstrated financial need and met Texas Success Initiative (TSI) standards or were exempt from taking a TSI assessment. I chose the TSI because this is the assessment used to determine whether or not a student must enroll in developmental coursework. In other words, it determines whether or not a student is prepared for collegelevel classes. HB 3276 made it to the House floor, but after much debate, was amended to instruct the THECB to continue to study TEXAS grant allocation rather than to implement the priority criteria. SB 28, which passed this session, included four merit criteria. A student must achieve two of the four criteria to be first in line for a TEXAS Grant. My proposal in HB 3276 was rolled into SB 28 and meeting TSI standards or being TSI exempt was one of the merit criteria.
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TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
Donna Howard Interview (cont’d.)
This was a very contentious issue because of high tuition costs. Financial aid contributes both to increasing access to higher education, as well as increasing college completion rates, and it is tough to know exactly the best way to balance these competing goals. I would prefer that the Legislature fund TEXAS Grants at a level that makes this type of aid available to all eligible students, but until that happens, I believe that SB 28 is the best way to ensure that we are maximizing the funds we have allocated to the TEXAS Grants program by rewarding those students who are the most prepared. 3. Our most important issue was guns on campus, in which one poll showed 80 percent of faculty opposed any changes. One bill permitting concealed weapons on campus had more than 80 cosponsors when only 75 votes were needed to pass it in the House, and the majority of the testimony supported the change. In addition to our efforts, what do you think turned the tide? Due to the overwhelming support in the House, I think the plan was to try and get the legislation through the Senate first. Senator Wentworth did not have any success with the stand alone bill, so he resorted to trying to amend it to another bill. He successfully attached the guns on campus language to tone of Senator Zaffirini’s bills, however, she pulled her bill down because she did not agree with the proposal. Wentworth then added it to SB 1581 which passed the Senate. Opponents of the bill on the House side were able to use a procedural maneuver to send the bill back to the Senate and have the amendment removed. 4. You recently reported at the TACT Fall Conference that the 2013 Legislature is again facing a $12 Billion deficit. Do you foresee another round of what House Speaker Strauss called “an assault on higher education”? At this point, I honestly do not know what to expect. I think the way the Legislature will address any budget shortfall next session will depend largely on the results of the 2012 elections. If we end up with 101 Republicans again, I am not sure Speaker Straus will be open to anything other than a cuts-only approach to balancing the budget similar to what was used this session. The only thing I can say with some certainty is that we will use money from the Rainy Day fund to cover our unpaid bills from this biennium. For example, the budget we passed underfunds Medicaid by almost $5 billion, and we will need to pay for that. 5. TACT sometimes feels like we are the lone voice talking about the quality of higher education when discussions in the Legislature seem to be about quantity – increasing enrollments and graduations. You seem to understand the quality issue. Is it your nursing background that tells you that no one wants dumb medical professionals?
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TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
Donna Howard Interview (cont’d.)
I agree that quality often gets lost in the discussion, in favor of other criteria that is more easily measured like completion rates. I also think that state legislators failed to learn an important lesson that was highlighted by the action at the federal level to curb the amount of federal financial aid dollars going to for-profit institutions of higher education who were graduating students that could not find meaningful employment. Coming from the health care industry, I believe I have a greater level of sensitivity to the issue than some because of the severe consequences that can result from the actions of a medical professional with improper or inadequate training. 6. O.K., open-ended time. Either as a parent of a student in this system or a legislator, what would you like to tell our faculty? I would like to tell them, “Thank you for performing what is often a thankless job.” I would also like to say that there has been a rash of attacks on the value of research at institutions of higher education. These attacks are in part due to increasing tuition rates and are accompanied by a push for greater transparency and accountability for individual institutions. I think faculty are uniquely positioned to counter the misinformation that is being spread about the unimportance of research. I would encourage TACT to monitor this issue and comment when appropriate.
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TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
Thank you for your time and dedication this year. Here’s to a successful and bright 2012. Contact us! For every new member you bring to TACT, be entered to win...
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TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
If we are “Academically Adrift...” in what direction should we sail now?
by Frank Fair TACT VP of Financial Affairs
Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s Academically Adrift has caught the attention of many people who are concerned about the state of higher education in this country. In our own state of Texas, the Higher Education Coordinating Board recently held a videoconference with Arum to discuss the findings reported in the book. Responses to the book vary, but here is the view of Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina), chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training since January 2011, as reported in an interview in Academe, an AAUP publication: Warren: In one interview, you referred to the newly released book Academically Adrift, noting that “recent research by two sociologists shows very little value added to most of higher education. Students in higher ed don’t gain the kinds of skills that they need to continue in the work world. So I think higher education is going to have to prove its worth in the future.” Could you expound on that statement? Foxx: This study speaks fairly well for itself. According to this book, nearly half of college students do not “demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” after two years of undergraduate studies. This is a scandal. If these findings are
accurate, institutions of higher education must examine whether those who are paying for a college education are getting their money’s worth. And those who are paying for college should ask the very same question. Note that Rep. Foxx speaks of a “scandal,” and note how she moves quickly to a question of accountability in terms of people “getting their money’s worth.” Her response is part of increasing pressure on institutions of higher education from quarters that are skeptical about the “value added” to many of the student “products” who move through the halls of academe. Indeed, Arum and Roksa’s reported findings should concern all of us who care about higher education since there are precious few national samples of their size (2,322 students) and diversity that have been followed long enough and tested sufficiently to provide an appropriate basis for significant conclusions. The conclusion that Rep. Foxx cites is reported this way: “With a large sample of more than 2,300 students, we observe no statistically significant gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills for at least 45% of the students in our study.” (p. 36) The lack of gains is shown by students’
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TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
Academically Adrift (cont’d.)
performance on the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) from a 2005 test administration in their first year of college to a 2007 administration after completion of two years. Obviously, there are questions that can be raised about the representativeness of Arum and Roksa’s sample and about the validity of the CLA as a test of critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills. I’ll let others debate those issues. I grant for the sake of argument that the sample is representative and the CLA is valid. I would just ask that we read the whole book before coming to conclusions about what to do and about how scandalous the situation is. My curiosity in this regard was piqued early in reading the book when on page 3 Arum and Roksa cite a study by Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks that indicates a pattern of declining academic effort by college students over the past several decades. Those of us who got our undergraduate degrees in the “Stoned Aged” of the 1960’s can remember being told that the expected standard was two hours’ work outside of class for every hour in class. That is why a 15 semester credit hour course load was a “full” load since the combination of 15 hours in class and 30 hours outside of class makes for a 45-hour work week. Babcock and Marks’s findings are neatly summarized in an article in American Enterprise Institute’s Education Outlook No. 7 August 2010. Here are their numbers for full-time students in four year institutions for study time: • • 1961--24 hours per week (39 hours per week when combined with class time) 2003—14 hours per week (29 hours per week when combined with class time)
And they say further: “The evidence indicates not only that college students are studying less than they used to, but also that the vast majority of the time they once devoted to studying is now being devoted to leisure activities, rather than paid work.” (Babcock and Marks, p. 3) This latter point is reinforced in Arum and Roksa’s book by a pie chart reporting on a survey from selective institutions about how students use the 168 hours of the week: 9% in class, 7% studying, 24% sleeping, 9% working, volunteering, etc., and fully 51% of the time socializing and recreating. That works out to 15 hours in class, 12 hours studying, and 85 hours socializing and recreating. (p. 97) Arum and Roksa also state: “Even more alarming, 37 percent of students reported spending less than 5 hours per week preparing for their courses.” (p. 69) That last figure is arresting. One wonders how many of the type of
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TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
Academically Adrift (cont’d.)
students represented by that 37% figure are among the 45% of Arum and Roksa’s sample who made no progress in thinking skills over the first two years of their college careers. As Babcock and Marks note, there are a variety of theories about what may account for the decline in student effort, a decline, by the way, that was sharper in the 1961-1981 period at 8 hours per week that it was from 19882004 when it declined only two hours per week. Their preferred explanation is that that standards have declined— meaning that we faculty members have gotten less demanding over time. This explanation fits well with Arum and Roksa’s contention that their evidence shows a significant positive effect of more demanding course work on CLA scores. Their evidence shows that courses which require: 1. 40 or more pages of reading per week, and ... 2. 20 or more pages of writing over the semester have a noticeable impact on CLA scores, while courses which meet only one of those requirements do not. Finally, it will come as no surprise that Arum and Roksa’s data show that students who came to college with high GPAs and high SAT/ACT scores and who took four or more AP courses had notably higher growth in their thinking skills as compared with their less well-prepared colleagues. (p. 49) Indeed, they assert that academic preparation is “a key factor that shapes differential rates of growth in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills among students from different family backgrounds during the first two years in college.” (p. 50) So, if we demand more of the students both in college and before they get there, they will learn more and improve their thinking skills after their first two years at a higher percentage than they do now? I wonder if it will be that simple. And the pressures for “accountability” and “efficiency” seem to push in the opposite direction. As state support for higher education has declined over the years, one institutional response has been to move to larger class sizes, especially in the introductory level courses in many disciplines. I cannot imagine how 20 pages of written work is going to be required of 200 students in a U. S History or Political Science introductory course, for example. But please take the time to read Academically Adrift and start thinking through your own analysis of how we have come to this position. The book is a very useful starting point for a discussion of the direction in which we should set sail to end our period of academic drift and get back on course.
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TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
In the News: A TACT Member Responds
by Frank Fair TACT VP of Financial Affairs After hearing of Representative Berman’s response to the issue in this Statesman article, Frank Fair weighs-in on the issue of whether a Creationist organization should be included on a list of University charities. Representative Berman goes over the top in his ill-considered response, and here’s why. In the original article in the Austin American Statesman on Nov. 30, 2011, the main contention of Dr. Hillis is that: “The issue, in the view of the creation institute’s critics, is whether it meets a requirement in state law to provide “direct or indirect health and human services.” It makes sense that for charitable giving purposes there be such a requirement in state law, so the issue being raised is not about how baleful or beneficial the influence in our society is of the Institute for Creation Research, but does the Institute meet one of the legal requirements to be listed as a charity. I seriously doubt that it does, since the work of the Institute is to promote a particular educational agenda, not to be a provider of “direct or indirect health and human services.” Rep. Berman’s response ignores that issue in favor of an intemperate response: “If I were Chancellor, I would fire him for trying to deny individuals of their first amendment rights.” It is almost too silly for words to suppose that any organization has a constitutional, First Amendment right to be included on a list of stateapproved charities for state employees to give to if the organization fails to meet one of the legal requirements for being on that list. Perhaps when Rep. Berman calms down he will realize how misplaced his anger is. Frank Fair Psychology and Philosophy Sam Houston State University
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13
TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
Legislative Update
by Cindy Simpson TACT VP of Legislative Affairs
The 82nd Texas Legislative Session has come and gone, but TACT is still advocating on the behalf of higher education. During the TACT Fall Conference, at the end of October, TACT board members sat down with the legislative aides of a number of State Senators and Representatives to express our concerns and goals for higher education. We left behind copies of our TACT Issues 2011-2012, listed below, for the legislators to keep. A quick overview of the visits is as follows: The formation of the new Joint Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency looks to be a vital ingredient in impacting the future of higher education. TACT spoke with key figures from each of the two Co-Chairs’ staffs: Senator Judith Zaffirini and Representative Dan Branch. Senator Zaffirini is the CoChair for the Senate as well as Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. Representative Branch is the Co-Chair for the House and serves as the Chair of the House Higher Education Committee. Both groups acknowledged that the crisis for higher education will continue into the next legislative session, but that the Joint Committee will be an enduring watchdog for the future of higher education in Texas.
Senator Kirk Watson is also on the Joint Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency, and serves with Senator Zaffirini on the Senate Higher Education Committee. A visit to his office allowed TACT to thank him for his commitment to higher education. His is a voice perennially on the side of higher education, and TACT is confident that Senator Watson is for improving the quality of higher education in Texas, and not fixated on the reform ideas currently under scrutiny. Representative Vicki Truitt is the Chair of the House Committee on Pensions, Investments & Financial Services. The visit with Representative Truitt’s staff proved beneficial since, during the last legislative session, contribution levels to the Texas Retirement System fell to the Constitutional minimum of 6%. Realizing this pitfall, TACT has already begun to advocate on behalf of those members in TRS in hopes of an increase during the next legislative session. As equally important as the visit with Representative Truitt, TACT members visited the office of Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Hinojosa has a key role in determining
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14
TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
Legislative Update (cont’d.)
how the state revenue is shared. He also serves on the Subcommittee on Higher Education funding. These duties could be a pivotal combination for higher education funding during the next legislative session. TACT members also visited Representative Sylvester Turner’s Chief of Staff. Representative Turner serves as the Vice-Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Like Senator Hinojosa, Representative Turner has a great deal of input in how the available monies are distributed. Since faculty salaries in Texas are lower than the average of the ten most populous states TACT was careful to address this funding issue in both the House and Senate. Overall, the legislative visits were a success and we feel that all who represented TACT at these visits communicated the importance of continued and increased higher education funding to all of our audiences. TACT will continue to advocate during the interim in hopes the 83rd Texas Legislative Session will be a successful year for higher education. During the interim session TACT will keep up with pertinent committees, make more visits to those representatives and senators who are key constituents in interim charges, and continue to share the 2011-2012 TACT issues. TACT Issues 2011-2012 1. Faculty Salaries. Salaries in Texas are lower than the average of the ten most populous states. (See 2011 AAUP study) Also, enrollment in public universities in Texas has grown by more than 260,000 over the past three years. (Texas Tribune, Oct 27, 2011) 2. Higher Education Funding should be a priority: the current biennium saw a 9.3% decrease in G.R. funding. Texas GRANTS was cut by $55 million. We cannot expect to increase the number of Texas university graduates while simultaneously slashing the Higher Education budget. 3. Texas Retirement System. TACT wants to maintain the solvency of the system, maintaining current benefits and allowing for cost of living increases. The latest budget dropped the contribution levels to the constitutional minimum of 6%. TACT opposes reform ideas that would take the guaranteed money of a pension and transfer it to a 401(k) type plan. 4. TACT is concerned about some of the recent higher education reform ideas. TACT is open to higher education reform but it must be done with faculty input (such as the AAUP criteria recently put in place at the University of Texas), not by think tanks whose only motivations are fiscally based.
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TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
TACT Fall Conference Photos
TACT President Peter Hugill, Representative Donna Howard, and Executive Director Chuck Hempstead pose as Rep. Howard receives her “TACT: Legislator of the Year Award.”
Representative Donna Howard delivers her address to the assembled members of TACT at the Fall Conference on October 26th.
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Dr. Debbie Price, Dr. Gary Coulton, and Dr. Frank Fair attend the TACT Fall Board Meeting.
TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
The James M. Puckett, Ph. D. Government Relations Fund
The TACT Dr. James M. Puckett, Ph.D. Government Relations Fund is a result of optional contributions made by those committed to TACT’s public affairs program. It is not used for candidate contributions, but for activities that will increase awareness of TACT among opinion leaders of public policy. Your contribution will assist in TACT’s legislative efforts to improve Texas higher education. All expenditures are approved in advance by TACT’s President, President-elect and Legislative Committee Chair.
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
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Thank you to the following contributors
Gary Coulton Mary DeShazo Frank Fair Chuck Hempstead Russ Higham Joe Kemble Doreen Kinkel John Payton John Rugh Cindy Simpson Texas A&M TACT Chapter
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5750 Balcones Dr., Suite 201 Austin, TX 78731 tact@bizaustin.rr.com [p] (512) 419-9275 [f] (512) 873-7423
Andrea Williams
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TACT Texas Association of College Teachers
Defending Academic Freedom
The TACT Quarterly eBulletin
CONTENTS
Cover Page Index Letter from the President Executive Director’s Report Interview with Rep. Donna Wise Holiday Greeting Academically Adrift In the News: A TACT Member Responds Legislative Update Fall Conference Photos GRF Contributions Membership
Membership Rates
• $158 Regular Membership. Professional staff, full-time faculty, librarians, administrators and other professionals. Includes Educators’ Professional Liability Insurance starting 11/1/2011 and ending 10/31/2012. • $113 Affiliate Membership. Administrative assistants, retired faculty, parttime faculty, graduate students, subscription members and libraries. Includes Educators’ Professional Liability Insurance starting 11/1/2011 and ending 10/31/2012. • $250 Annual Business Membership.
Renew your TACT membership online by visiting “Join TACT” or renew over the phone by calling (512) 419-9275.
Contact us!
5750 Balcones Dr., Suite 201 Austin, TX 78731 tact@bizaustin.rr.com [p] (512) 419-9275 [f] (512) 873-7423
Visit www.tact.org, and join TACT Today!
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