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Vanderbilt's Role in Washington

As one of the nation's top research universities, Vanderbilt University plays an important role in the federal process. Both as a recipient of federal grant money, and as an expert provider of cutting-edge research and analysis, Vanderbilt's voice is vital to the consideration of national policy issues. Among the many topics on which the Office of Federal Relations focuses are higher education policy; student aid; international student access; funding for research in science, engineering and the humanities; tax issues and intellectual property issues.

Much of our effort, therefore, involves direct contact with the Congress and Executive Branch on legislative and regulatory matters. We make officials aware of Vanderbilt's expertise in key areas of concern and, whenever appropriate, advocate positions that advance the interests of Vanderbilt and the broader higher education community. We often work in tandem with other research universities and play a leadership role in numerous national associations and coalitions that address these issues.

However, Vanderbilt takes an even broader view of Washington, which is the home of so many policymakers and opinion leaders. Our office works with a wide range of non-governmental organizations, including the large concentration of national news media in Washington, major think tanks, the National Academies, and numerous scientific societies. In essence, our presence in Washington gives us a "seat at the table" when many important policy issues are being deliberated.

All of the issues mentioned above are important to the success of Vanderbilt's academic mission. For example, federal grants and contracts provide indispensable funding for faculty researchers and are the lifeblood of many graduate assistants. And federal student aid -- grants, loans and work-study programs -- are indispensable to many of our students. We also engage directly in the academic mission of the university through internship programs and other academic opportunities.