Vanderbilt University has doubled the space of its Office of Federal Relations in Washington D.C. to accommodate a growing full-time staff students and interns and to handle increasing numbers of visitors.
Each staff member now has an office. There is also an office for visitors from Vanderbilt's campus to use when in town, a conference room that can handle 20 people, and three individual offices it leases.
The university opened a one-person office 18 years ago to keep up with legislation on higher education. The office later broadened its mission and became more interactive when it began lobbying Congress on research funding issues, student aid and regulatory activities.
An added benefit of the broader focus has been relationship building with the executive branch; major news outlets in the Washington area, and other non-governmental organizations, associations and think tanks.
"This is money that directly funds faculty researchers and many of their graduate assistants. And we're talking about roughly $300 million that goes from Congress, through the granting agencies, to Vanderbilt University," said Jeff Vincent, assistant vice chancellor for Federal Relations in the D.C., office. "Each year, the university can expect funds from at least half of these appropriations bills."