Duke to open office in D.C.

Duke will open a center in Washington, D.C. this year to connect Duke students, faculty and alumni working in the capital.
Duke will open a center in Washington, D.C. this year to connect Duke students, faculty and alumni working in the capital.

Duke will open a permanent office in the nation’s capital, which is home to the University’s third largest alumni base and hosts more than 100 Duke student interns each year.

The space will serve as a hub for Dukies in Washington, D.C., said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. He said he hopes the office will be fully functional this year.

“The office will be almost like an embassy in Washington,” Schoenfeld said. “It will work to strengthen connections between students, faculty and alumni in Washington, while increasing Duke’s national visibility.”

Although plans are still tenuous, Schoenfeld said a permanent office will facilitate classes and other events associated with Duke. The School of Law, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Sanford School of Public Policy are among the schools that will take advantage of the office’s resources.

The University currently has an interim office run by Landy Elliott, assistant director for federal relations. The temporary office serves as a source of support for Duke faculty, staff and students coming to Washington and helps connect policymakers in D.C. to Duke faculty and resources on campus, Elliott said.

The current office is housed in a space rented from Washington University in St. Louis. As more students and faculty take advantage of opportunities in Washington and some Duke schools look to augment their programs, a permanent office will better meet the needs of the University, Schoenfeld said.

The Sanford School of Public Policy already has a palpable presence in Washington, D.C. Its students intern and do independent studies in the city, and many faculty members participate in roundtables and provide expertise to policymakers, said Sanford Dean Bruce Kuniholm.

Assistant Dean for Communications and Marketing Karen Kemp also noted the potential benefits of an office in Washington for Sanford.

“Having Duke staff in D.C. will help us expand our network more quickly,” Kemp wrote in a Wednesday e-mail. “It also will enhance Duke’s visibility and help us make Sanford faculty and their policy-related research more readily accessible to legislators.”

Kuniholm said Sanford is looking to establish a semester-long program in Washington, D.C. but the idea is in its planning stages.

Kemp said she would like to see the semester program incorporate the expertise of alumni working in Washington for guest lectures.

Schoenfeld said it likely will not change the nature of programs already in Washington. An office may, however, facilitate some of their programs, for example by providing seminar rooms for classes.


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