Making Inroads in Washington, DC

The below story initially appeared in Duke Today on March 30, 2014.

http://today.duke.edu/2014/03/dcembassy#slideshow

Sometimes referred to as the university’s “embassy” in the nation’s capitol, the Duke in Washington (DIW) office has lived up to the billing as it approaches its second anniversary of operations.

During a recent four-week span, professors, athletic teams, administration officials, and medical center faculty came to Washington, D.C., for congressional testimonies, White House ceremonies and other purposes.

Members of the Duke community have long connected with alumni and policymakers in Washington, but these recent events highlight a trend of the Duke in Washington facility and staff to extending the university’s engagement.

“Since the opening of Duke in Washington, we’ve been able to support and promote a wide range of university activities in ways that we couldn’t before,” said Landy Elliott, director of Duke in Washington. “Providing a home-base for faculty, staff, and students can be as simple as making them feel at home when they’re away from campus. But it can also serve as a launch pad for highlighting Duke’s efforts and scholarship to the greater Washington community.”

Sometimes, it’s space for meetings.

Take, for example, a Tuesday in early March. In the afternoon, the Department of Community and Family Medicine used the DIW conference room to hold media interviews and government relations briefings with their collaborators in the Practical Playbook initiative.

The same day, President Richard Brodhead, who was in town for meetings with a number of elected and appointed government officials, hosted alumni and students from Duke Law’s and the Sanford School’s Duke in DC academic programs for an evening reception in the DIW space. Brodhead also claimed one of Duke in Washington’s spare offices to take care of university business in between meetings.

On other occasions, Duke in Washington staff promote university activities throughout the nation’s capitol. When two faculty members testified before Congressional committees on the same day, Alyssa Dack, Duke in Washington’s public relations specialist, took photographs and promoted the testimonies via social media.

In addition, Dack delivered physical copies of the professors’ written testimonies to the committee staff and escorted one of the professors, who was making her first trip to Capitol Hill, to the hearing room.

“The experience of testifying was made much less stressful by the help and support of the Duke in Washington and Duke Federal Relations offices,” said Jane Costello, associate director for research at the Center for Child and Family Policy, who testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Just a week later, when the men’s lacrosse team attended a White House ceremony honoring NCAA Champions, Duke in Washington staff offered logistical support, including providingpress assistance and arranging team meals before and after the ceremony.

“For Duke in Washington to be a resource to the entire university community, we have to be creative and hands-on,” Dack said. “But it’s rewarding to see the many ways that the Duke and Washington communities complement and overlap with one another.”

For more information on DiW’s location, amenities, and policies, visit the Duke in Washington website.