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Perceptions of State Legislators and Higher Education Administrators Regarding Governmental Relations Efforts By Land-Grant, Research-Extensive and Major University Systems

By Richard Owen Avery


Public university systems and institutions actively engage in legislative relations efforts with elected representatives who comprise state legislative bodies. Historically, the primary impetus for fostering legislative relations was to leverage appropriations. Funding issues remain an important component of higher education's interactions with legislators, in addition to the higher education policy decisions emanating from state capitols. This dissertation examines perceptions of state legislators and higher education administrators regarding government relations efforts by land-grand, research-extensive and major university systems. By utilizing semi-structured interviews with select state legislators and university administrators, this study explores the current state of practices utilized in legislative relations and summarizes "best practices" administrators may use in their efforts to maximize their work in the legislative process as it relates to higher education. Interviewing state legislators and university administrators falls into a category referred to as elite interviews. Such interviews are considered specialized in that they involve influential or prominent individuals and require carefully thought out approaches to arranging, conducting and recording the interview meetings. Qualitative interviewing techniques were utilized to explore the realm of higher education?s government relations efforts. Three major implications emerged in this study. First, the practice of legislative relations by university systems is as much art as science. No approach guarantees success, and the measurement of success is relative to the cultural, historical, political, and economic environment of a particular state. Second, state legislators' strongly encourage higher education to take a holistic view and moving beyond the traditional approach of each system or institution working solely in its own best interest. A third implication is that the structural rigidity and level of coordination in a system's government relations operation are reflective of the extent a system's goals supersede those of individual member institutions

Topics: Higher Education, Legislative Relations, Government Relations
Year: 2012
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