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Campus & Community

Drexel's D.C. Office Opening New Worlds for University

August 28, 2014

DC office building

Late last May, Drexel opened a new office in the middle of Washington, D.C. More than a year later, the office’s strategy is still evolving.

But one thing is clear: It has opened up new worlds for Drexel. And that’s the case for all programs and many faculty, not just the few who work there.

“There is a lot of opportunity to turn this into a resource for the University as a whole,” said Bruce Levine, an assistant clinical professor for the School of Education (SoE) who works out of the D.C. office, located in the Lafayette Tower.

The School of Education is one of three colleges and schools with permanent presences at the D.C. location, along with the College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) and the College of Nursing and Health Professions. All three of them offer online education programs that fit well in the marketplace, and they are using the D.C. office to promote and recruit in what Drexel Online has identified as its No. 1 target market for students.

But there’s a lot more going on, too. Drexel can find many uses for a connection to the nation’s capital and all that it contains.

“There’s just huge potential there for folks from Drexel, faculty and students, to connect with this really exciting world,” said Trudi Hahn, teaching professor and director of academic outreach for CCI, another faculty member stationed in D.C. full-time.

For one thing, the office presents some educational opportunities. Levine recently hosted a group of SoE undergraduates and led them on a daylong D.C. tour, during which they met with lawmakers and learned about how education policy is formed.

“We get access to some of the key players in the nation in that area,” Levine said.

D.C. is also, of course, home to a number of government agencies and other groups with the potential to fund research, making the office a valuable resource for faculty seeking grant opportunities. The space is open for use by faculty in all Drexel schools and colleges for meetings and events. They can even access a rooftop deck overlooking the White House — “totally gorgeous,” and ideal for hosting meetups, said Greg Montanaro, Drexel’s senior adviser to the president for external affairs. Montanaro spends about one day each week, on average, in the D.C. office, conducting outreach.

“Really, it sends a message into that community that Drexel is committed to being a presence in Washington, D.C.,” Montanaro said of the office.

The people working there also hope to one day establish the office as a hub for any kind of Drexel work related to policy — from students learning about policy in their various fields to faculty hoping to get their research results in front of policymakers.

“The idea is that we could turn it into a second home for policy-related conversations and research,” Levine said.

But perhaps most importantly, the office has simply helped increase the University’s name recognition, Levine said. Though Drexel is well-known in the Philadelphia area, he said, he has run into people in D.C. — some of them visiting from elsewhere in the country — who knew little or nothing about the University. But they came away from meetings knowing a lot more about Drexel, including that it is devoted to a D.C. presence.

“Drexel’s brand is getting better-known down here,” Levine said. And though the future could present even more possibilities for the Washington office, that fact is already exciting enough.