Killeen, campus leaders visit Washington policymakers, research leaders

Capitol Building in Washington, DC

University leaders visited Washington, D.C., as part of the President’s Executive Leadership Program.


President Timothy Killeen led a University of Illinois delegation on a two-day trip to Washington, D.C., that provided rare access to high-ranking officials at the nation’s capital.

The mid-July visit was arranged as part of the President’s Executive Leadership Program, launched last year to groom new generations of campus leaders through a crash course in the complex issues facing public research universities, including the inner workings of state and federal government.

This year’s trip to Washington included meetings with top officials from key federal funding agencies and White House policymakers, as well as traditional briefings with congressional staff and leaders of national higher education and research associations.

“This was truly a unique opportunity — a chance to nurture relationships that are vital to our future, to highlight the university’s strengths and its potential to lead the way to progress, and to learn how we can help agencies attract the research funding that is critical to move our nation forward,” Killeen said.

At the National Science Foundation, the delegation met with director France Córdova and nearly all of her assistant directors. Killeen, a former assistant director at NSF, helped arrange the afternoon of meetings, where NSF officials underscored the importance of broadening participation across disciplines to address challenges ranging from health care and energy to food and water supplies. The Urbana-Champaign campus has ranked first in NSF funding among U.S. universities for the last five years.

The delegation met with leadership from the National Institutes of Health, where the Chicago campus ranks 46th nationally in funding, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The delegation discussed higher education and research issues in meetings with leaders from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The group met with a senior staff member from the House Science Committee’s Research & Technology Subcommittee to hear about the committee’s oversight and legislative functions.

The group also met with Rep. Rodney Davis and his senior staff, Sen. Dick Durbin’s science adviser and staff from Sen. Mark Kirk’s office.

This year’s fellows from UIC were Bo Fernhall, dean of the College of Applied Health Sciences; Kouros Mohammadian, professor of transportation systems; Peter Nelson, dean of the College of Engineering; Michael Redding, executive associate chancellor for public and government affairs; and Terri Weaver, dean of the College of Nursing.

Fellows from UIUC were Abbas Benmamoun, vice provost for faculty affairs and academic policies; Mike DeLorenzo, associate chancellor; Gay Miller, professor of pathobiology; and Barbara Wilson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Gerard Joseph, associate provost for budget and administrative planning, was the UIS fellow.

Other university officials joining the delegation were Peter Schiffer, vice chancellor for research in Urbana; Mitra Dutta, vice chancellor for research in Chicago; Christophe Pierre, university vice president for academic affairs; Mike Devocelle, special assistant to the president; Dedra Williams, assistant vice president for academic affairs; Melissa Haas, acting director of federal relations; and Jennifer Creasey, interim director of state relations.


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