- The purpose of this study was to identify the strategies and tactics
community college presidents used to influence state legislators. Selected State
Board for Community and Technical Colleges staff and legislative staff members
were asked to independently name 3-5 presidents whom they perceived to be most
influential with legislators. Ten names were nominated; however, only five
presidents were invited to participate in the study.
The research identified five strategies and supporting tactics presidents used
to influence state legislators. The strategies and tactics were:
Strategy One: Build and Maintain a Relationship with Legislators and the
tactics were: cultivate the relationship, make the interactions worthwhile, make
personal contact, and invite legislators to campus;
Strategy Two: Know the Players and the Process and the tactics were:
contact legislative staff, know the legislative structure and protocol, and know
Strategy Three: Become a Resource for Legislators and the tactics were: be
factual and knowledgeable, be broader than the college, be an advisor, and be
Strategy Four: Broaden your "Sphere of Influence" and the tactics were:
involve the community and staff, work with other legislators, and be bipartisan.
Strategy Five: Communicate and Frame the Issue and the tactics were: use
State Board staff expertise, ask for legislators' support, make the message
meaningful, and testify at hearings.
The findings suggest that successful community college presidents must
develop personal and professional relationships with legislators based on honesty,
trust, respect, care, and genuineness. Presidents should devote time to learning the
legislative process to determine when and how decisions are made and by which
political leaders. Because political work is time consuming, presidents must
involve others, such as community leaders, faculty and staff, in the college's
All the presidents in this study exhibited similar viewpoints on particular
issues that the researcher contributes to these presidents' ability to influence. The
presidents shared common viewpoints related to how they viewed legislators,
themselves, the college, and the community.
Community college presidents must be actively involved in influencing
public policy decisions that affect the mission, finances, curriculum, support
services, facilities, and overall operations of the college.