MIT Washington Office
The president established the MIT Washington Office within his office during the spring and summer of 1991. The office opened on August 12, 1991. The vice president for federal relations heads the office and reports to the president. The staff includes assistant director Suzy Glucksman and staff associate Kathryn Alsbrooks.
The mission of the Washington Office is to support the advocacy activities of the president in Washington and to represent the Institute in Washington as one of the nation's premier academic institutions. The office maintains a steady flow of information between MIT and the federal government. Staff members gather and disseminate information to the MIT campus concerning government activities and actions. The staff also makes the university's resources available to federal officials, facilitating the sharing of them with Congress, the Executive Branch, and other national organizations. The office maintains liaison with the offices of the Massachusetts congressional delegation and other congressional offices.
The vice president and staff are engaged in the activities of the major organizations and coalitions that work in support of the federal investment in university research and education, including the following:
- The Science Coalition*
- The Council on Competitiveness (COC)
- The COC Committee on Federal Relations
- The Association of American Universities (AAU)
- The AAU Council on Federal Relations
- The National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC)
- The NASULGC Council on Government Affairs
- The Council on Government Relations
- The Coalition for National Science Funding*
- The Coalition for National Security Research*
- The Energy Sciences Working Group*
- Coalition for Plasma Science*
- Nuclear Energy Day*
- The Science, Engineering and Technology Working Group
- The AAU Space Sciences Working Group
- Space Grant Day*
- Jefferson Day of the National Humanities Alliance*
The office frequently engages MIT faculty and students as advocates with members of Congress and their staffs. This year, eight faculty members, two administrators, and four students participated in advocacy events sponsored by those groups noted with an asterisk (*).
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the vice president collaborated with colleagues in national organizations as the university community responded to a series of national legislative and policy proposals that sought to strengthen homeland security. These activities dominated much of the year. The work, which began with efforts to counter proposals to freeze the flow of foreign students into the United States, rapidly evolved into efforts to secure prompt, workable implementation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Three statutes were enacted, each of which imposes new, acceptable, requirements on research universities. For several months, the vice president engaged senior MIT administrators in activities related to these bills and related matters. Notable contributions to the work of national organizations and to the policy outcomes were made by vice president for research Alice P. Gast, senior counsel Jamie Lewis Keith, director of the Office of Sponsored Research Julie T. Norris, and director Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook and the staff of the International Scholars Office. Working collaboratively as a team, MIT officials helped to secure acceptable policy and legislative outcomes.
MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the Center for Fusion and Plasma Science, and Bates Laboratory are among MIT's largest research entities. In terms of federal research support, they are among the most vulnerable to abrupt shifts in funding priorities. The vice president continued to accompany the associate director of Lincoln Laboratory on visits to key congressional offices. The objectives were to brief key staff on current activities and accomplishments of the laboratory, and, at the end of the congressional cycle, to express appreciation for the continued support of key members and staff. The assistant director performed the same function intensively for the Center for Fusion and Plasma Science and the Bates Laboratory.
In 1993, with the financial support of the Sloan Foundation, MIT began an annual seminar for senior congressional staff on science and technology issues. The president invites more than 200 staff leaders of key committees and related policy groups to attend an intensive two-day seminar with senior MIT faculty and presenters from industry and other universities. In 1993, the first attendees established the format. Topics are suggested by staff. Professors Eugene B. Skolnikoff, Claude R. Canizares (now associate provost), and Stephen Ansolabhere are co-directors of the program. On April 3-5, 2002, 20 senior staff attended the seventh seminar—"Energy: Technology and Policy Choices." Professor Ernest J. Moniz chaired the planning committee. The Washington Office again identified invitees, made travel arrangements and served as program staff throughout the seminar. Senior career staff of the Executive Office of the President approached the vice president to express interest in participating in future seminars.
The vice president began to accompany the associate provost on visits to senior officials of Executive Branch agencies with responsibilities for science and technology, beginning with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation. Future, more frequent visits are planned to the Department of Defense and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Energy, and additional agencies.
More information about the MIT Washington Office can be found on the web at http://web.mit.edu/dc/.