Simmons Named Vice President for Government Relations

In newly created role, Chris Simmons will oversee state, federal and international government relations for the university.

Chris Simmons, appointed vice president for government relations.

“Through his engagement with policymakers, Chris has had a remarkable impact both at Duke and in support of higher education more broadly,” said Price. “Chris and his colleagues work tirelessly and creatively to demonstrate the value of higher education and academic inquiry, to connect policymakers with scholarship that informs their work, and to advocate for policies and resources that provide critical support for our education and research mission. I am absolutely thrilled to appoint him to this new role.”

Since August 2022, Simmons has served in an interim capacity leading the university’s government relations and communications activities. He will conclude that service following the appointment of a new vice president for communications, marketing and public affairs.

During his time at Duke, Simmons has represented the university’s interests in Washington on a wide range of issues including student financial aid, federally funded research, international education, tax policy, and immigration. He is widely recognized for his leadership in advancing higher education access and affordability, support for research, and promoting the importance of immigration and global engagement.

“While the politics and policies of higher education are the focus of my career, the real reason I love this work is that I get to come to Duke each day and spend time with thoughtful colleagues, inspirational faculty and the best students in the world. There is nothing better,” said Simmons. “This is an amazing place to work and represent and I’m grateful to President Price for this incredible opportunity.”

Simmons is the inaugural director of Duke’s Nakayama Public Service Scholars Program, and has served as a pre-major advisor for undergraduate students for more than a decade.

“Chris has been a tremendous partner and resource for Duke faculty,” noted Professor Erika Weinthal, chair of the Academic Council. “He consistently advocates for federal resources to support education and research, and frequently presents at seminars and workshops to support effective faculty engagement with policymakers. I am delighted that my faculty colleagues and I will be able to continue to work with Chris and his team in his new role.”

Beyond Duke, Simmons chairs the Public Issues Committee of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE) and is a former member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) Board of Directors, the AAU Council of Federal Relations Steering Committee, and is a past board chair of the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham.

Simmons is a 1993 graduate of Willamette University and earned a master's degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. In 2020 he was recognized with the AAU Legacy Award for Career Excellence and National Leadership.