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University President Drew G. Faust met with Vice President Mike Pence last week on her fourth lobbying trip to the nation’s capital in 2017.
Seated to the left of Pence in his office at the White House, Faust joined a delegation of university presidents from across the country to advocating for supporting scientific research and student aid, according to an Indiana University press release. A Harvard spokesperson said the group also discussed the importance of international students and faculty to American universities.
Faust—who pledged to intensify her lobbying efforts after Donald Trump won the presidency last November — has traveled to the nation’s capital four times since then to meet with lawmakers and higher ed advocates.
Indiana University — the flagship public institution in Pence’s home state — arranged the meeting with the vice president. Attendees included the presidents of Indiana University, MIT, Ohio State University, and Rice University, the chancellor of UCLA, and the president of the Association of American Universities, according to the Indiana University press release.
Research funding and financial aid are two long-standing foci of Harvard’s lobbying efforts. Harvard received around $600 million in federal research funding in 2016 — a level Faust and the University’s D.C.-based lobbyists are fighting to maintain. Trump’s 2018 budget proposal would slash funding from several key sources of research grants.
In a statement provided by a University spokesperson, Faust said Pence expressed support for university research.
“I appreciated the opportunity to discuss issues important to higher education with the Vice President, and to hear his support for research universities and their important contributions to science, health, innovation and economic growth,” Faust said.
But untouched at the meeting was a subject that would soon send shockwaves through the world of higher education: the Trump administration’s stance on affirmative action. “I am not aware of the topic being discussed,” Marc Lotter, Pence’s press secretary, said in an email this week.
Several days after the meeting, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration was preparing to investigate universities with affirmative actions policies for racial discrimination in admissions. The Justice Department said in a statement Wednesday that its focus is narrower than originally reported: it is only examining one complaint filed in 2015 accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants.
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