March 17, 2009

University Representatives on Capitol Hill

By jnurse

The beginning of the annual federal appropriations process is a popular time for association and university staff to visit Senators and Representatives to impress upon them the value that research and learning is adding to their particular fields.  The University of Washington is no exception.  The support of Members of Congress is necessary to ensure that adequate funding is part of the national budget. During the past several weeks, the Office of Federal Relations has been pleased to assist with the following DC visits:

Professor Ken Creager, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, attended a board of directors meeting of Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) the first week of February.  IRIS has a data management center located near the UW campus where it collects, stores, and distributes information from numerous seismic networks around the globe.  IRIS is funded by the National Science Foundation.  Professor Creager met with Washington state Members’ office to request additional funding (in the FY 09 Interior Appropriations Act) that will allow them to also manage the data generated by the US Geological Survey’s Advanced National Seismic System. 

Professor Bruce Balick, Department of Astronomy, and Vice Chair of the Faculty Senate, was in DC on February 20th to discuss with Members’ offices the goals of the UW’s Climate Action Plan (CAP).  The goal of CAP is to create an environmentally sustainable campus; UW has committed itself to this goal as part of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Professor Balick emphasized the need for long term federal strategy around climate change research and related funding opportunities.  He also offered the university’s expertise in development of this strategy.

Associate Dean Deborah McCutchen, College of Education, represented Dean Patricia Wasley, at the Advocacy Conference for Learning and Education Academic Research Network (LEARN) the end of February.  LEARN is a coalition of research colleges of education that advocates investment in multi-disciplinary research to advance the scientific understanding of learning and development.  Currently the Department of Education invests less than 1% of its overall budget to education research.  LEARN is requesting that amount be doubled.

Also at the end of February, Professor Uri Shumlak, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Associate Professor Brian Nelson, Department of Electric Engineering, were here for Fusion Day.  The focus was on educating the Washington state delegation about fusion energy in general and specifically the fusion energy research that is being done at the UW.  The concern is that the Department of Energy continue to fund domestic programs and not international ones.

UW President Mark Emmert  and Randy Hodgins, Interim Vice President of External Relations and Director of State Relations, met with Members of the Washington state delegation on March 10th and 11th to discuss the university’s federal agenda issues and what they would like to see included in the FY 10 Appropriations budget.  Christy Gullion, Director of Federal Relations, accompanied them on the meetings to Capitol Hill.  The list of projects that the UW is requesting funding for in the FY 10 budget can be found on this website.

Also on March 11th Professor Anthony Geist, Chair of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, attended the 2009 conference of the National Humanities Alliance and met with staff on the Hill to ask for increased funding to support the humanities and the work being done at schools such as the UW.  The UW Simpson Center for the Humanities has focused on how digital technologies can transform the way knowledge is researched, taught, and shared.  The Center now has a $625,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create the Digital Humanities Commons.  Each year four faculty members and four graduate students will be chosen to explore how the next generation of technology can change research and teaching in the humanities.  The goals of the Commons are to animate knowledge (add interactive features), circulate knowledge (to the larger public), and to understand digital culture. 

Note:  Please contact the UW Office of Federal Relations to assist in scheduling visits to Washington state delegation offices.  202-624-1420.

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