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Crowley, Director of Wash. Office And Fed. Relations VP, to Retire

By Kelley Rivoire

Vice President for Federal Relations John C. Crowley will retire in late December or early January. The announcement of his retirement follows a string of recent departures by upper-level administrators as the end of President Hockfield’s first year nears — the period during which she asked all top administrators to remain at MIT.

The MIT Washington Office was established in 1991 by President Emeritus Charles M. Vest’s in the first year of his presidency, and Crowley has served as its director since. The Washington Office is MIT’s main link with Congress, federal government agencies, and other higher education associations and science groups in Washington.

“I learned very early how deeply those in Washington recognize the contribution to the national welfare made by MIT and Lincoln Laboratory,” Crowley wrote in an e-mail. “The cumulative contributions made over the past half century have made MIT the gold standard in the art and practice of ‘getting it right.’”

Vest “put a Washington face on MIT and it opened doors to policy makers across government,” Crowley wrote. “We did not rattle a tin cup, but instead asked how MIT might help. It was refreshing to many — and most welcome. MIT’s campus-based team of administrators and faculty contributed to more effective policy formulation directly and through many leading national organizations and associations.”

Crowley also cited Vest’s creation of the MIT Congressional Staff Seminar on Science and Technology as “a significant contribution now emulated by others” that is “strengthening and deepening the science understanding of staff.”

“Jack has provided extraordinary service, not only to MIT but to all of the higher education community,” Hockfield said in her announcement of his retirement, according to the MIT News Office. “His skillful and tireless work advancing national policies that promote education and research, to build strength in science, engineering and technology have benefited all of us. I am very grateful to him for having deferred his retirement plans and continuing on in this important role during my first year in office.”

The Washington Office aims to help MIT influence federal policies in science, engineering research, and education and to facilitate consultation between MIT faculty and the government on scientific policy issues. Legislative initiatives led by the Washington Office include homeland security policies in the wake of September 11, such as restrictions for international students.

“9-11 drew a bright line,” Crowley wrote. “The last four years have seen a new agenda related to homeland security that has engaged many on campus in issues related to visa policy, openness of universities, export controls and control of hazardous substances and agents.”

“Post- Iraq and Katrina, federal budgets seem poised to become even more constrained,” he wrote. “Making the case for the future, for long-term investment in an open enterprise of research and education and the need to remain the destination of choice for the world’s best minds are three issues that will merit continuing close and intensive engagement with government and the rest of the university community.”

Hockfield, who travels to Washington at least once a month to advocate science research and education, characterized the outlook for government funding for research and development as “nothing less than dismal” at last week’s faculty meeting. “While there is tremendous interest and understanding of the important role that research and funding of research plays in maintaining America’s innovation economy, there is not much optimism that things are going to get better any time soon,” she said at the meeting.

Vest said to the News Office, “I count among my greatest privileges having worked closely with Jack Crowley, and having learned from him how to pursue worthy goals in Washington. He is without peer among university federal relations officers, and is revered by his colleagues across the country. He brought to his work with MIT on behalf of the federal-university partnership a strong set of fundamental values and understanding of faculty goals as well as a unique working knowledge of government processes.”

Crowley was vice president of the Association of American Universities before coming to MIT.

“Completing 14 years with Chuck” tops his achievements in the position, Crowley wrote in an e-mail. “I didn’t know I had the stamina.”