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University President Drew G. Faust met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer in Washington, D.C. last month, she told professors at Tuesday’s Faculty meeting.
Specifically, Faust said she spoke to members of Congress about the endowment’s tax-exempt status, research funding, and federal policies protecting undocumented students.
After President Donald Trump’s election in November, Faust said she is “ramping up” efforts to lobby the federal government and announced her plans to travel to Washington, D.C. in January, rather than in April as originally scheduled.
At Tuesday’s Faculty meeting, Faust outlined the three policy areas that she considers priorities in “the evolving political and policy environment.” She initially pointed to these areas at a Faculty meeting in December.
“I noted that there would be three areas of focus—continued advocacy for research support, making the case for the endowment and what it enables, [and] supporting the members of our community, especially those made vulnerable by new initiatives that have been appearing,” Faust said.
These policies face threats from the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers. During his campaign, Trump pledged to nix the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program—established by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to provide legal protections to undocumented young adults—in his first 100 days in office. Trump has said he will make a final decision on DACA in coming weeks.
The University has taken a series of steps to support its undocumented students, who administrators say number around 40. The Harvard University Police Department has pledged not to inquire about the citizenship status of affiliates, and the Law School’s Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic has hired an attorney to provide legal counsel to undocumented affiliates, among other measures.
Faust said she also discussed research funding and Harvard’s endowment with McConnell and Schumer. Faculty have voiced concerns that the University could lose some of its federal research funding, which totaled about $600 million in 2016, under Trump.
Some Republican members of Congress have also questioned the tax-exempt status of large university endowments, and Faust responded to congressional inquiries in a lengthy letter in April, defending Harvard’s tax-exempt designation.
“I think we had some success,” Faust told faculty members Tuesday of her January trip.“We will continue the work of advocacy for our students and our interests.”
Since her trip to Washington, Faust also signed a letter to Trump Thursday calling on him to reverse a recent executive order barring immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The order has directly impacted Harvard affiliates from the targeted countries, preventing some from entering the United States and jeopardizing visas of more than 100 scholars and students at Harvard.
Harvard’s General Counsel filed an amicus brief Friday in a suit challenging the executive order before a Massachusetts federal court Friday. Faust said Tuesday that she is working with the Massachusetts congressional delegation to assess the damage the order has caused to the University.
—Staff writer Claire E. Parker can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @ClaireParkerDC.
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