A New Administration, a New Congress, and a New Duke in DC Office

New base of operations in DC aids faculty and students get close to policymakers

Students and faculty members from Sanford’s Duke in DC program pose at the North Carolina Society of Washington’s Inaugural Ball.

Duke University's new Washington, D.C., office is already proving to be useful for Blue Devils doing research and learning in the nation's capital. This week, it even was valuable as a place to prepare for an inauguration.

Among the 800 attendees that filled the Stars and Stripes club level of the Washington Nationals baseball stadium for the North Carolina Society of Washington's Inaugural Ball on Saturday night were 11 students and faculty from the Sanford School of Public Policy's new academic program, Duke in DC.

The Sanford program uses the Duke in Washington office as its home base, and Kristin Goss, associate professor of public policy and political science and director of the program, says that tickets to the ball are just one of the many perks that the participating students have to look forward to during the semester-long program.

"Students will enjoy seminars with members of Congress and their top staff members, leading journalists, administration officials, and issue advocates working on agenda-topping issues ranging from gun control to energy independence to voting rights," Goss said.

"The DC program gives us professors the chance to teach politics and policymaking in a whole new way," Goss added.

Sanford's Duke in DC program isn't the only university program using the centrally located hub.

Duke Law School's own Duke in DC program, which held classes in Duke in Washington for the first time last year, will continue to meet in the classroom this semester. Between Sanford's undergraduate program and the Law School program, classes will be held in the Duke office almost every day until May.

To celebrate the start of the 113th Congress, on Jan. 3 the Office of Federal Relations held a reception at Duke in Washington for the North Carolina delegation and staff and Duke alumni who work on Capitol Hill.  Representatives Mo Brooks (R-AL, T '75), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and David Price (D-NC) joined more than 50 congressional staff in the Duke office to kick off the new congressional term.

"Traditionally, to have a reception like this, we would have reserved a room in a Marriott. It was great to be able to host our friends on the Hill in Duke space," said Chris Simmons, associate vice president of federal relations.

Other recent events at the office have included lunch with the Duke Mastercard Foundation Scholars; a day of speakers for the Fuqua School of Business's Health Sector Management Program; the Duke Black Alumni Leadership Breakfast featuring Len Kennedy, the Senior Advisor and Counselor to the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; an information session for prospective students of the Duke Environmental Leadership Program; and the Nicholas Institute's Board of Visitors meeting.

"Duke in Washington has been bustling with activity in the last few months, and there doesn't seem to be any sign of it slowing down at all.  Duke Law, Sanford, Nicholas, almost every school really -- they all have classes or significant events scheduled this semester, with some even as far out as December 2013," said Landy Elliott, associate director of federal relations and DC operations.