Annual Report to the Faculty Senate

Government Relations Committee

2005-2006

 

 

Committee Chair: James A. Throgmorton (Fall).

  Acting Chair in the Spring: Marcus Haack

Committee Members:

David Asprey

Art Bettis

Marcus Haack

Richard Hichwa

Sheldon Kurtz

Richard LeBlond (ex officio)

Katherine Tachau (ex officio)

 

Committee Charge:

This committee has primary responsibility for developing and improving the faculty’s relationship with the government of the State of Iowa. It is also authorized to take responsibility for any other issues referred to it by the Faculty Senate or Council that may involve the faculty’s relationship to other government entities.

 

Meeting Dates:

September 19, 2005

November 7, 2005

December 5, 2005 (joint meeting with the Staff GRC)

January 5, 2006 (joint meeting with the Staff GRC)

March 10, 2006

 

Activities:

•     The Chair coordinated the committee’s activities with the Staff Government Relations Committee and its Chair, Julie Eichenberger-Gilmore.

•      The Chair participated in a briefing for state legislators conducted on November 4.

•      The Chair participated in a meeting of Faculty committee chairs on October 24.

•      On December 8, the committee co-sponsored a reception for local legislators. The Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce was the other co-sponsor.

•      On January 5, 2006, the committee met with a local legislator to discuss how the faculty and staff could improve their relationships with state legislators. The conversation was frank and productive.

•      The committee extensively discussed the possibility of generating and using credible data about the University’s contribution to legislative districts. The data might include the number of students, the number of alumni, payroll, and purchases. They would be compiled for legislative districts rather than for counties. The committee agreed that further investigation and coordination were required.

•     With the League of Women Voters, the committee co-sponsored a public forum involving locally-elected state representatives and senators. This took place on April 20.

 

Final Conclusions:

The committee slipped a bit this year. Although committee members generated some potentially productive ideas during the fall, especially the possibility of generating district-based data to share with legislators, the committee as a whole lost momentum during the spring. Perhaps this was due to the fact that the Chair was on developmental assignment during the spring. President Skorton’s announcement that he would be departing the University also compelled many committee members to focus their attention on making sure that an appropriate person would be hired to replace him.

 

Recommendations to the Senate:

1.   The idea of generating district-based data deserves a careful look, as do ideas that emerged during the committee’s frank conversation with a local legislator.

2.   Three other ideas that emerged in AY 2004-05 deserve further attention:

--   If possible, two or three committee members could meet informally during the summer with elected officials who represent districts adjacent to Iowa City.

--   The committee could do a better job of helping the public understand the faculty’s role, perhaps by targeting key newspapers throughout the state and inviting them to have reporters spend a day with individual faculty members to see what we do.

--   Perhaps the Faculty Senate could facilitate committee members’ efforts to communicate with legislators by arranging to have the committee members host state legislators on one of the football weekends. These pairs of faculty and legislators could tour the campus and attend the game together. The Faculty Senate might also help create a “buddy system” that pairs individual faculty members with individual legislators.