Making A Difference
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Faculty Involvement with Citizen Groups, Organizations and Associations in the Private Sector
Questions are often raised by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension staff regarding the appropriateness of being involved in the formation and operation of organizations and associations. The primary concern relates to the fact that on occasion these groups become directly involved in the functions of political and legislative activity, thus creating the perception that Extension staff are actively participating in such activities.
The following quotation taken from THE COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE, edited by H. C. Sanders, is the basic philosophy behind Extension's participation with a wide variety of organizations and groups:
The framers of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 saw the Extension Service as one of many institutions charged with the task of educating the American public. Clearly they saw the role of Extension as that of working with other agencies, institutions, and organizations in the broad field of education--not that of doing the job alone. Thus, the mandate to "aid" has made it imperative that the Extension Service identify it self with the great multiplicity of organizations, institutions, and social systems that form the framework of American society.
With the limited resources in Extension, we cannot possibly fulfill our education mission unless we utilize a wide variety of organizations and groups to deliver our education programs. In addition, we would not be fulfilling our assigned role as part of the land grant system unless we provided assistance and counsel to groups of people interested in forming organizations, both formal and informal, for the benefit of the state. The following general policy set forth on this issue in 1958 for Extension staff holds true today:
A. Staff members serving citizens in the general welfare have the responsibility of making available to people information about:
- The principles of sound organization.
- Suggested procedures for forming a proposed organization.
- Opportunities to serve the intended purposes through organizations already in operation.
- The advantages and limitations of the purposes, aims and nature of the proposed organization.
B. They may, when requested, perform such functions as:
- Helping survey the need and interests for the proposed organization.
- Assisting with publicizing and calling together of people to discuss the proposed organization.
- Helping to train officers in the conduct of their business.
- Serve in an advisory or non-voting role.
C. Except as indicated in A and B, it is not part of a staff member's official duty to:
- Act as an organizer for any group or for any group of people.
- Conduct membership campaigns.
- Act as financial or business agent for organizations.
- Call official meetings of organizations.
- Edit official organization publications.
- Serve as officer for an organization.
University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension will not assist with the formation of organizations where the primary purpose is for political or legislative activity.
Individual staff members, as citizens in the communities, have a right to hold membership in and participate in organizations. They may serve in organizations and have the right to express themselves so long as they express their opinions as their own and not as opinions of University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension.
Staff members are encouraged to participate and take leadership roles in service clubs and similar groups interested in community development and welfare. In accepting a leadership role, UNL Extension staff must exercise caution if the service club or similar group adopts an advocacy position.
In setting forth this policy, it is recognized that border-line cases may arise. When a staff member has a question in regard to the policy to be followed in any given case, he should consult with his Unit administrator or the Dean's office in regard to the action to be taken.
Policy Statement 83-002
Revised February 1999