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Duke Opens Office in Washington, DC

Academic and outreach center will serve as 'embassy' for Duke units

Duke's new DC office will serve as a hub for scholars, students and others to meet and work in the nation's capital.
Duke's new DC office will serve as a hub for scholars, students and others to meet and work in the nation's capital.

Duke in Washington is open for business.

The multifunctional academic and outreach center officially came online on April 17, and Duke-affiliated groups and individuals are already using Duke's "embassy" in Washington, DC.

The Duke Islamic Studies Center (DISC) advisory board will meet in the Duke in Washington conference room on Friday, the Nicholas Institute will host a policy discussion on technological advancement of coal on April 30, and the Duke Magazine editorial board will gather in the new office on June 1.

"While Duke has always had a strong presence in DC through alumni, students and faculty, our new center really extends the campus to the heart of Washington," said Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations Michael Schoenfeld, who led the effort to establish the office.  "It is very exciting to bring to reality the ideas that many people have had for academic programs, speaker series, career development, seminars, internships, alumni activities and other ways in which can enhance Duke's presence here."

The 3,710 square foot office, located at 1201 New York Avenue, will have three Duke staff in residence: Cheryl Choge and Megan Jungwiwattanaporn with the Nicholas Institute of Environmental Policy Solutions (NIEPS), and Landy Elliott, associate director of federal relations.  Chris Simmons, associate vice president for federal relations, and the rest of the Office of Federal Relations will continue to be based in Durham.

"We are excited to relocate to a new space in D.C. with other colleagues from across Duke," said Choge, a water policy associate with NIEPS.

"This location is not only close to several key partners outside of the university, but it affords us increased interaction with Duke faculty and students who come to the city," Choge said.  

In addition, faculty and staff with Duke-related business in DC will be able to use four "swing" offices in the facility.

Elliott, who will manage the daily operations of Duke in Washington, said that a few individuals have already taken advantage of the convenience offered by the new office. "We had only been open for a few hours when I started hearing from faculty members who wanted to use the swing offices for an hour or so in between meetings at the EPA and the White House."

Gale Boyd, director of the Triangle Census Research Data Center at Duke, was among those who experienced the advantage of having a Duke office in Washington last week. 

"Having the Duke hub in DC made my recent trip much less stressful!  I was able to drop in, make some changes and reprint my handouts, and still have plenty of time to make it to my meeting at the White House," Boyd said.

"Having that space available will really be something I continue to make use of in the future," Boyd said.

Another key feature of the DC office is a multipurpose conference and classroom space that boasts advanced Cisco videoconferencing capabilities and flexible furniture options. "We designed the room so that we could host a policy roundtable discussion in the morning, the Duke in DC law class in the afternoon, and an alumni reception in the evening," Elliott said.

The Sanford School's Duke in DC: Public Policy, set to launch in Spring 2013, will be one of two academic programs to hold classes in the Duke in Washington classroom. 

"The Duke office will provide a space where undergraduates can learn from and network with alums, both through their courses and through social events," said Kristin Goss, a public policy professor who will be directing the Duke in DC program. "The students will also be able to see up close how the university represents their policy interests in Washington."

Duke Law School's Duke in DC program will also meet in the space beginning Fall 2012. 

Building amenities include a small conference center and a glass-ceilinged atrium that can be reserved for larger receptions.  A larger conference facility adjacent to the Duke office is also available for use.   Event and office space information and reservation policies can be found on the Federal Relations website.

"A presidential election year is in some ways the ideal time to enhance the already strong relationship between the university and policymakers, alumni, and other friends of Duke in DC," Schoenfeld said. 

"We still have a lot to do, but we now can do it from a place that has "Duke" on the front door."