Legislators, School Ties and Public Funding

Public state colleges and universities benefit when alumni are elected to state legislatures. A Duke University study, “School Spirit: Legislator School Ties and State Funding for Higher Education,” finds that every state legislator who attended an in-state public college or university is associated with an additional $3.5 million in funding.

“Our results show a statistically significant, positive association between funding and the share of legislators who attended in-state public institutions,” write Aaron K. Chatterji, Joowon Kim and Ryan C. McDevitt. The positive relationships are even stronger for legislators with school ties who also represent the alma mater’s district.

States the study: “An addition of one publicly-educated senator who also represents his or her alma mater is associated with an estimated $375.9 million increase in state funding of higher education, compared to an increase of $21.6 million by adding an identical senator without alma mater representation.”

The study got me to thinking. What are the old-school connections between Virginia legislators and public Virginia universities? Public attention has focused on Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-Williamsburg, and his ties to the College of William & Mary. But what other connections are there? Herewith are Bacon’s Rebellion’s findings for the state senate:

All but nine senators have a Virginia educational connection. By my hasty counting before moving on to the next blog post, 22 attended a public Virginia institution of higher education.

It would be interesting to explore deeper connections. For example, Del. Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg, is a member, his bio says, of William & Mary’s Challenge 1 Strategic Planning Committee, and served three years as Chairman of the Athletic Educational Foundation. In 2002, William and Mary awarded him the Young Alumni Service Award.

I wish I had time today to conduct a similar exercise for members of the House of Delegates, but I don’t. If a kind and selfless reader out there is interested enough to do the grunt work, I’ll be happy to publish the results.

Update: Hamilton Lombard with the demographics group at the University of Virginia reminds me that his former colleague Luke Juday presented data on the StatChat blog two years ago about where Virginia’s delegates went to college.

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5 responses to “Legislators, School Ties and Public Funding”

  1. Hamilton Lombard Avatar
    Hamilton Lombard

    Luke Juday looked at where delegates went as well here:http://statchatva.org/2015/03/13/where-virginia-legislators-went-to-college/

  2. djrippert Avatar

    Lots of lawyers in the mix. 16 out of 40 I believe.

    “Hello your honor, I am representing the plaintiff and I am also a Virginia State Senator … which means I’ll be voting on whether you serve another term or not in a few short years. Oh, and we have no independent recommendation committees or capability assessment process. Yeah, we’re one of only two states that give the legislature unfettered control over this process. As far as recusing myself from the vote because of this obvious conflict of interest …. Bwaaaa Haaaa ha ha ha!”

  3. Senator Norment is interesting because he works for William and Mary, represents Williamsburg (where W&M is located), and graduated from William and Mary Law School. I wonder how those rank in terms of influence on him? (My guess would be the order in which I listed them.)

    When I look at the list it is lawyer-heavy, but probably less so than a lot of legislatures. Beyond that, it seems surprisingly diverse. Not heavy Ivy. No UVA undergrads, it appears (old boys). And not that long ago, there were very few women.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    so if General Assembly guys pay State income tax.. they have conflicts?


    1. Maybe it’s enough of a conflict to live in the State. I am surprised that none were undergrads at The University.

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