Insights and Research on Graduate Education
Volume 8, Number 2April 2019
CGS Deans and Students Represent Grad Ed on Capitol Hill

Lauren Inouye, Vice President, Public Policy and Government Affairs, Council of Graduate Schools

This month, 40 CGS member deans and graduate students from across the country convened in Washington, D.C., to participate in CGS’s 2019 Advocacy Day. Participants arrived on April 3 to attend a training session on effective advocacy strategies with CGS’s government affairs staff followed by a networking reception in the evening. The following day, advocates met with 61 House and Senate offices to convey CGS’s requests to support graduate education, research, and scholarship. More specifically, members urged legislators to preserve graduate student borrowing and loan repayment options in Higher Education Act reauthorization; strengthen support for federal student aid and research funding in Fiscal Year 2020; and support policies that promote the U.S. as a welcoming environment to attract and retain international graduate students.

“The Legislative Assistants/Legislative Directors with whom I met were keenly interested in restoration of subsidized student loans for graduate students, and improvement of the loan terms for Grad PLUS loans,” said Jerome Kukor, dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Rutgers University, and chair of CGS’s Advisory Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy (ACAPP).

CGS Board of Directors members and ACAPP members were invited to participate in this year’s advocacy day, which, for the first time, included the option to bring up to two of their graduate students. The diverse group of master’s and doctoral students represented a broad range of programs of study, from STEM to public policy to health professions and social work. Joint meetings with deans and students offered policymakers and their staff a more holistic perspective of how decisions made at the national level influence students’ ability to pursue a degree, propel innovation and research that stems from graduate education, and offer economic and societal impacts associated with a highly-educated and prepared workforce.

"To be part of the Council of Graduate Schools’ Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., was a truly rewarding experience,” said Jonathan Parcell, a master’s student at Salem State University. “This event gave me a chance to network with other graduate students in different programs around the country all advocating for graduate education. No matter which side of the political aisle you are on, this is a great opportunity get an inside look on what it is like to work on Capitol Hill. It was a privilege to represent my university alongside my dean, Dr. Elizabeth Kenney, and fellow student, Renee Saleh, and meet with staff members of my senators and representative sharing how graduate school has prepared me for the future.”

CGS members can learn more about the Council’s federal priorities and policy recommendations for Congress and the Administration in its 2019-2020 Federal Policy Agenda. CGS would like to sincerely thank the deans and students who participated in this year’s Advocacy Day for dedicating their time, energy, and voice to advocate on behalf of graduate education.

Top Left: University of Missouri on Capitol Hill; Top Right: University of California, San Francisco delegation with Rep. Jackie Speier

Top Left: Hampton University delegation with Rep. Abigail Spanberger; Top Right: Salem State University advocates at networking reception

Above: University of Iowa delegation outside Senator Chuck Grassley’s office