Institute For Higher Education Law And Governance



IHELG Research and Service Agenda


Research Agenda

Service Agenda

Since its establishment in 1982, the Institute has undertaken significant research in higher education law and governance, and Institute scholars have published their findings in a wide variety of scholarly journals and books. In the years since 1982, Institute staff and affiliated scholars have produced a dozen books; nearly 9O journal and law review articles; and significant work in the IHELG monograph series, conference proceedings, and other scholarly vehicles. Three "special issue" journals have been Institute-edited, including the Review of Higher Education (higher education law); the Journal of Law and Education (Doe v. Plyler and undocumented children); and the Journal of Higher Education (racial harassment on campus).

Through these means, Institute research has been widely disseminated and read. While the research agenda has been primarily focused upon four areas of inquiry (monitoring legislation and litigation, statewide boards and systemwide governance, finance and financial aid, and postsecondary equity), many experts in law and education have advised additional investigations into developing fields of study.

After consulting widely with IHELG board members and other colleagues, Institute staff have undertaken a thorough review of research needs, developing trends in the law affecting college governance, and resources that can be effectively directed toward these tasks. This review has confirmed the four research foci, and has generated an exciting and important interest in research affecting higher education in Texas, the United States, and other countries.

Institute research priorities include several comprehensive projects, as well as smaller specific studies. Each will be undertaken as resources permit, and will be directed by Institute staff, UH faculty, and other Institute-affiliated scholars from around the world.

    - University/Corporate Governance and Intellectual Property. As universities become increasingly involved in externally funded research activities, a number of legal issues arise concerning university patent policies, copyright and royalty rights, faculty authority, tax policies, and university autonomy. IHELG research will explore these developments in intellectual property on campus. A comprehensive survey of 1000 Texas faculty, "Faculty Attitudes Toward Industrial Research on Campus," was published in 1989. In addition, IHELG has produced a book on Colleges and Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) Taxation.

    - Legalization of the Academy. This project will include a comprehensive review of legislation and litigation affecting postsecondary education. While it is clear that more laws have been enacted and litigation directed at universities, it is unclear whether this is a phenomenon affecting all sectors of U.S. organizations or whether the trend disproportionately affects education. What have been the costs and the benefits? How are universities reacting to external forces? These important questions will be explored through case studies and other approaches, and the results will be utilized to improve the legal practices of institutions. A study of litigation in Texas colleges was published in 1988. A major Institute casebook on this topic, The Law and Higher Education, has been widely used in law schools and schools of education.

    - Legal and Financial Issues in Student Residency Requirements. Earlier IHELG research on this topic has proven to be exceedingly useful to legislators and institutional officials in understanding the issue raised by residency requirements to determine in-state status. Several recent court cases have examined state requirements, and have posed fundamental questions concerning the extent to which states may classify students and the length of durational requirements. National data have been gathered and will be analyzed, while case studies of different classification systems are planned in key states. Immigration legislation has also caused significant changes in this area, and major Institute work in this field has been published in books and law reviews. The Spencer Foundation has provided funds for IHELG’s important work in this area.

    - Student Legal Services. Most institutions maintain administrative services for students, in addition to academic support services. This IHELG research project will survey campus legal services and judicial systems, and will examine the various means by which the services are funded and administered. This survey, the first such comprehensive study undertaken on the topic, should provide excellent baseline data and lead to a better understanding of legal issues involving students. Are there alternative means available to mediate campus disputes? If services are provided, what should be their procedures? How should these services be financed?

    - University Retirement Systems and Pension Plans. It is generally agreed that the professoriate is aging, and fewer positions are opening for younger faculty. This could have severe consequences in the area of retirement systems and pension plans, particularly in states where economic growth has slowed. This project will select several key states, including Texas, and will examine significant legal issues concerning retirement systems. What is the effect of pension resources upon retirement decisions? What are the effects of federal, state, and private pension eligibility upon retirement decisions? Are there non-monetary issues that arise in pension planning? Can retirement plans be used in creative ways by institutional managers for meeting changing requirements for faculty? What are the effects of age discrimination statutes upon academic retirement plans?

    - Annual Review of Legislation and Litigation. IHELG staff have monitored major litigation and legislation affecting college governance, and have published work analyzing the trends. Additional research is essential to remain current, to anticipate developing issues, and to work toward preventive practices that reduce the need for litigation. Resources for surveying such issues will be carefully invested in research topics and to convene educators and attorneys for discussions on the emerging trends. The Institute has convened these parties for consultations on residency requirements, on issues concerning undocumented children in public institutions, on governance of science and technology, and on issues of informed consent in research. Institute monographs have resulted on each of these topics.

    - Higher Education Law Bibliography. The bibliographical resources for studying higher education law are growing, but are doing so in uncoordinated fashion. Two monographs written by Institute affiliates have identified major publications, but no single source exists for categorizing the various periodicals, journals, law reviews, reporter services, and other legal resources where scholars and practitioners can turn when they wish to examine a higher education legal topic. The Institute will undertake a major bibliographical project that is multidisciplinary, comprehensive, and useful to a wide range of colleagues. The supplements to The Law and Higher Education will also fulfill this responsibility, as do the extensive library and journal holdings, used widely by visiting scholars and IHELG staff.

Of course, this ambitious agenda will be reexamined regularly for its validity, and Institute resources will also be directed at other important projects that present a unique opportunity consistent with the IHELG mission. Additional resources will be necessary for ongoing research projects as well as for more specialized undertakings, but it is expected that any sponsored research will be undertaken only if it can be conducted freely and is consistent with the carefully-articulated foci of the Institute.

In addition, the Institute's service mission will continue to include activities designed to improve the administrative practice of college administration and to convene interested parties for study of legal issues affecting college governance. The specific activities include workshops, conferences, consultations, joint projects, and co- sponsorship of important group activities. For example, the Institute convened a workshop on Intellectual Property Policies for Houston area scientists, research administrators, and attorneys, and co-sponsored a seminar on educational finance litigation in Texas. Each Spring, a Higher Education Law Conference is designed to discuss higher education legal issues with Houston-area college administrators. Finally, the Sanchez Lecture series and other such forums will provide the UH community an opportunity to debate important legal issues concerning colleges and universities. Recent topics have included academic freedom, sexual harassment in the academy, the First Amendment, and the role of religion in higher education. Through careful research and systematic inquiry, the Institute's work can be informed by colleagues and can be shared with colleagues. IHELG should become a model of research and service collaborations for improving the quality of higher education.