July 12, 2001
Present: Robert Grainger, Michael Smith, Patricia Werhane, Robert O'Connell, Houston Wood, III, Karen Ryan, George Cohen, Julian Connolly, David Brautigan, Susan Perry
Guests: Rob Lockridge, Executive Assistant to the President, State Governmental Relations Nancy Rivers, Executive Assistant to VP, Management & Budget Colette Sheehy, Vice President for Management & Budget
Robert Grainger, Chair of the Faculty Senate, called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone. Introductions were made.
Mr. Grainger spoke of the Council's meeting with local legislators, which took place in May 2001. One outcome of that meeting, Mr. Grainger said, was a defined need to expand communication and informal interaction between faculty and legislators. Rob Lockridge addressed the group regarding ways that faculty can help facilitate increased interactions with legislators. Mr. Lockridge gave an overview of the process of working with legislators. He explained his role as a representative of the University's interests in Richmond. Mr. Lockridge gathers information on legislation and events occurring in Charlottesville, and he meets with legislative staff to discuss the University's position on issues affecting higher education. Higher education has to compete with grades K-12, transportation, and mental health for funds, Mr. Lockridge said. Most legislators campaign on issues on education, as opposed to higher education. Mr. Lockridge remarked that delegates are likely to become more conservative in the next session. The legislators are very busy -- a typical day in a legislator's life includes an 8:00-6:00 p.m. workday, and as many as 3,000 bills are introduced in a session. In addition, there are social events, which are likely to make a 14-hour day, Mr. Lockridge said. Efforts by faculty should include asking legislators what they can do to make their legislative job easier, and how they might help facilitate these factors, Mr. Lockridge suggested.
Colette Sheehy added that faculty members regularly attend legislative sessions to talk about "subject matter" issues, and this is useful. The Executive Council can continue to highlight issues of concern, so that faculty can be mobilized and respond in numbers. Mr. Grainger asked if Ms. Sheehy's office could provide some general guidelines on how the Senate can fund expenses that might be incurred when the Senate communicates with legislators on behalf of the faculty, such as mass faxing, telephoning, sending letters, etc. Julian Connolly, mentioned the idea of alumni involvement with their local legislators, an idea that was first mentioned at the Executive Council/legislators luncheon in May. Ms. Sheehy, said this is a good idea, and the University is working on such interactions. Houston Wood asked for suggestions of things faculty can do to advance the cause. Some things mentioned were faculty dissemination of legislative information, working with alumni, and identifying and developing factual/information issues. Mr. Lockridge suggested that the Council work with Nancy Rivers to develop methods.
Michael Smith suggested the Senate could host freshman legislator sessions on specific issues -- providing information, resources, and helpful facts regarding Virginia higher education. Four or five Executive Council members will be appointed to work with Nancy Rivers as a "working committee' to address legislative issue, Mr. Grainger said. Ms. Rivers said the practice of the Office of Governmental Relations working with the Executive Council to inform faculty of legislative issues, and getting feedback from the faculty, is very helpful. Mr. Grainger noted that this year's General Assembly session does not provide for faculty raises, and he asked how the Executive Council might voice concerns with legislators. Mr. Lockridge said a "caboose bill," introducing a faculty salary package, which, if passed, will be retroactive from November 2001, would be introduced at the next session. Suggestions on where letters on this issue might be addressed are: the Governor, the Secretary of Education, and individuals on the money committees. Ms. Rivers will send Mr. Grainger the legislative list, and he will draft a letter.
The meeting adjourned at 1:40 p.m.
Submitted by Kathryn A. Neeley, Secretary of the Faculty Senate