Section 6. Governmental Relations
Issued: September 2001
This paper reviews the desired activities of the Executive Director of Government Relations and provides an overview of the way in which government relations will be carried out at Southern Illinois University.
Maintain effective relations with members and leadership of the General Assembly, members of the Governor’s Cabinet, Congressional members, staff, constitutional officers, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education. This is of major importance to the welfare of the University and is a high priority in the President function. Additionally, maintaining awareness of the on-going activity in the legislature and Congress and being knowledgeable about proposed and pending legislation and its progress are vitally necessary. To these important purposes a legislative activity and liaison function was organized by the President, utilizing personnel both from within the Office of the President and from the constituent institutions. Procedures are established for formulating a university position for important legislation, and specific actions are planned and carried out for informing appropriate legislators and congressional members of these positions. An information file is established to serve the information needs of legislators, congressional members, or their staffs with a minimum of delay and a maximum of accuracy. A specific and clearly defined policy for maintaining a good image for the university and its constituent institutions has been formulated and implemented.
6.3 Job Description
The job description for the Executive Director of Government Relations position offers more insight into the activities suited to the office:
Using the support of the Office of the President, maintains an up-to-date awareness of all legislative and congressional activity pertinent to the interest of Southern Illinois University and its constituent institutions, interacts with legislators to inform them of University concerns and positions regarding pending legislation, and serves as a contact point for legislative interests in the university.
Participates in the establishment and maintenance of effective communications with the General Assembly, members of the Governor’s Cabinet, Congressional members, staff, constitutional officers, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education, including involvement in the planning and scheduling of special events designed to promote interaction with legislators and public officers and the organization and use of communication networks which permit an assessment of political attitudes on short notice.
Participates in responding to the policy and operational questions of the university as viewed in the Office of the President in connection with the political and legislative implications of such questions and in developing strategies for dealing with those implications. In order for these activities to be conducted properly, the Executive Director of Government Relations must be guided by a philosophy compatible with the aims of higher education and realistically related to the scene in Springfield and Washington, D.C.
6.4 Government Relations: Conducting Government Relations
Government relations involves more than simply working with the legislature or Congress. Success in dealing with state government means being "political" not only with legislators or congressional members but with members of the Governor’s Office, the Bureau of the Budget, the Board of Higher Education, the Capital Development Board, and numerous individual state and federal officials. SIU’s government relations efforts are conducted consistent with the following guidelines:
Establishing priorities is necessary, since it is unrealistic for the University to push in any given legislative session for all of its needs. For this reason, with the Board’s assistance, priorities are established and communicated to all concerned. Priorities as determined by the Board of Trustees are implemented by the President’s Office after both constituent institutions have had ample opportunity to indicate their local concerns. These priorities become the basis of the University’s government relations initiative.
It is essential that the University maintain a reputation for dealing honestly with various legislative and governmental bodies. The university must press assertively and positively for its initiatives, but do so truthfully. In making our case, we shall present expected consequences of legislative or governmental action or inaction as objectively as we can. The "sky is falling" technique has no lasting value. What we say about a given issue at a particular time will be believable only if we have been truthful in the past.
The Executive Director of Government Relations coordinates government relations activities. Once priorities are set, all elements of the university will lend their support to insure an effective government relations effort. Leadership will be provided by the Executive Director of Government Relations, and there is close involvement with the constituent institutions. For the most part, local "service" to legislators, which includes dealings with mayors, county officials, and area legislators who have campus concerns, is carried out at the institutional level. Political and government leaders are more apt to identify with the institution in their district and with activities most familiar to them. Our program shall capitalize on this natural affinity. This loosely structured arrangement will require far greater effort than one which is tightly structured and where all government relations activities are the responsibility of one person. However, it is beneficial in the long run for the constituent institutions to have very close involvement. However, the overall responsibility of government affairs rests with the President’s Office and with the Executive Director of Government Relations who is the university’s operative in this area, and institutional involvement with political figures must be coordinated with that officer. The executive Director of Government Relations will help to more specifically define this coordination.Last updated: 5 Dec 2001