Date of Graduation

12-2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Higher Education (EdD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

Advisor

Michael T. Miller

Committee Member

Kenda S. Grover

Second Committee Member

Carleton Holt

Third Committee Member

Jennifer Miles

Keywords

Funding, government relations, higher education, organizational structure, state funding, state appropriations

Abstract

Competing interests for state government funding have affected the status of public higher education as a budget priority. State legislators and executive officeholders are increasing appropriations to areas such as public K-12 education, health care, infrastructure, and social services programs at the expense of state colleges and universities. As such the higher education community must effectively utilize its government relations organizations to communicate with elected officials the importance of state funding. The purpose of the study was to identify the functional and personnel trends existing within government relations offices, and, to determine the extent a relationship may exist between organizational elements and state funding. Personnel size and functions were the primary focus of the study. Given that the nature of the study centered on state funding, an added emphasis was placed on the study of personnel fulfilling state relations duties. Including the University of Arkansas, a survey was distributed among fifty-three major public research universities identified by the institution as a peer group. The demographic profile of government relations offices in the survey population is provided. Mostly negative correlations were found between personnel size and type, and levels of state funding. The lone positive correlation indicated that the portion of state higher education funding allocated to an institution was likely to be larger when more professional staff members assisted with state relations duties. However, a weak strength of correlation was determined among all relationships. Exploring related variables, state population resulted in positive correlations of state funding. As well, over half of the variability in the percentage of a state’s higher education budget allocated to an institution accounted for the variability in an institution’s share of the overall state budget. Incidentally, the percentage of a state’s budget allocated to an institution was likely to decrease when the dollar value of the allocation was increased. As a result, additional questions may be raised concerning the influence of states’ human and financial demographics on the results of government relations efforts. Many of the study's findings support a call for additional research within this field. Whereas descriptive statistics have helped identify the organizational composition of government relations offices, further questions arose regarding their role in the state funding process. As a result, findings of this analysis can be used as a foundation upon which future studies can be constructed determining the characteristics or trends predicting the effectiveness of government relations at major public universities.

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