Duke’s ‘Embassy’ in Washington

The Duke in DC office provides a welcome resource for Duke community members with work to do in the nation’s capital

The interior of the Duke in DC office.
The Duke in DC office is a valuable resource for Duke staff and faculty who do work in Washington. Photo courtesy of Duke in DC.

When Deondra Rose spent nearly a month in Washington D.C. doing research for her upcoming book, she never felt like she left Durham.

In between trips to speak with lawmakers or D.C.-based experts, she retreated to an office with a telephone, a printer and a link to Duke’s Wi-Fi. She even had fellow Duke employees nearby to bounce ideas off of.

“It very much felt like Duke,” said Rose, assistant professor with Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. “I could make myself at home a little bit.”

Experiences like this are the goal of Duke in DC, Duke University’s office and event space in the heart of Washington. The facility hosts academic programs, alumni receptions and meetings, houses Washington-based university faculty and staff, and serves as a base for Duke business in Washington.

Fuqua School of Business Dean Bill Boulding speaks with members of the media at an event at the Duke in DC office. Photo courtesy of the Fuqua School of Business.“The analogy we use often is that we’re the embassy for the university in Washington,” said Jeff Harris, director of Duke in DC and associate director of Duke’s Office of Government Relations.

Started in 2012, the Duke in DC office moved to its current location at 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue two years ago because of a need for more space. The new facility, which is easy to reach from Capitol Hill, Reagan National Airport and close to multiple train lines, features several conference rooms and event spaces, a multimedia studio and 42 work stations. Last year, the office hosted around 3,500 visitors, 300 events, 83 classes and had people from 70 Duke units or departments come through. And two years ago, it hosted a meeting of the Duke University Board of Trustees.

Each year it also hosts programs from the Sanford School of Public Policy, the Duke University School of Law and the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Policy.

“We’re uniquely set up to run the whole gamut, from one person who’s in town and needs an office, to a small working meeting, to a large 40-person daylong conference or an evening gala with 200 people,” Harris said. “We try to provide everything from the physical work infrastructure to a meeting and event space.”

The office is the permanent home to more than 35 Duke employees, mostly from the Duke Office of Government Relations, the Duke Alumni Association and the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy.

There is plenty of space available for any Duke community members in need of a place to work, hold a meeting or conduct an event. Spaces can be requested online or by contact a member of the Duke in DC staff.

“That facility is just an absolute gem based on where it is and how nice it is,” said Jonathan Phillips, director of the Energy Access Project at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Policy Solutions who has used the Duke in DC office for a handful of events. “It’s just an incredible asset.”

Phillips said the venue was well-suited to handle both roundtable brainstorm sessions and panel discussions.

“For my world, where we’re trying to get people together to talk and raise ideas, it’s just the perfect space,” Phillips said.

Erin Medlyn, director of communications for the Fuqua School of Business, said the space has been a wonderful resource for the needs – both large and small – of Fuqua travelers. She used the space to get work done between meetings and as the site of a media event last fall featuring Fuqua School of Business Dean William Boulding.

“It was great,” Medlyn said. “The staff in DC not only helped with space, but they helped make sure we were connected with the right folks in terms of who we were inviting. That resource was also tremendous.”

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