David Brown brings DC experience to government relations role | University time



David Brown started as Vice Chancellor for Government Relations and Advocacy in May and was immediately thrust into the ongoing fight to secure Pitt’s funding from the state. But Brown, who most recently served as vice president of federal relations for the University of Southern California, took it all in stride.

“From a government relations perspective, this is not unusual. That’s what we do, even though we were sort of on the pitch,” he said. “If you ask someone who’s been doing this job, like me, for over 20 years, there’s always frustration. The politics of things tend to get in the way, but you do your best to overcome them. You represent your university and the students, faculty and staff, and that’s really all you can do.

Starting during the takeover process, he said, gave him the opportunity to “get to know how my team works, how the chancellor works, and how the chancellor’s office works.”

Despite all the news about lawmakers opposed to Pitt’s funding, Brown said one of his main lessons from the state’s budget process was that “there are a lot of people, both in the House and in the Senate , both Republicans and Democrats in Harrisburg. , certainly the governor’s office, which is very supportive of the University of Pittsburgh and understands that the funding they provide, in fact, supports Pennsylvania students, Pennsylvania families, and helps lower tuition and increase access to a world-class university. .”

Universities across the country are grappling with similar funding issues, Brown said. “It’s just incumbent on us to advocate for the value we provide and the value not only that we provide to students and families in Pennsylvania, but the value that we provide to the state, the value that we provide to the region and I think society in general in relation not only to higher education, but to the research we conduct that benefits society.

Visibility on campus

Now his priority is to raise the profile of the government relations office both on and off campus.

“I think one of the first things to do is create better internal/external communications in terms of what the University of Pittsburgh government relations office does, the value it brings, and the resource it can be for students, faculty and staff,” he said.

He plans to go out and show up on campus in an effort to open lines of communication between all the schools and all the research going on. Brown wants to know “what the future of the University of Pittsburgh’s research portfolio is, what our priorities are, and to get an idea of ​​how my office can add value to it.”

He wants to work with his office’s communications team to “ensure that faculty, staff, schools and other internal University stakeholders have a very clear idea of ​​what we do and why we do it. do and the resources we can provide.

This is not only to help members of the Pitt community obtain funds, but also to do their work in front of legislative or committee staff, and to make Pitt a resource for legislators.

“I hope we can somehow translate that into university faculty, staff, leaders on federal agency boards, White House task forces,” he said. he declares. “It’s very important, I think, for the University to have a high profile in terms of testimony at congressional hearings. These kinds of things help raise the profile of the University and the government relations office.

Federal Outreach

Although he has worked at the local, state and national level, Brown says his primary experience is dealing with the federal government.

“There’s a lot of focus that we need to give at the federal level and … to build those relationships with all of the members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation,” he said.

Pitt has a research portfolio of over $1 billion, the vast majority of which comes from federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. Additionally, Pitt students receive substantial financial support from the federal Department of Education.

Brown said Pitt should also work with local, regional and state agencies to secure federal funds for infrastructure projects. “It is certainly a source of support that the University can bring to the region,” he said.

A recent semiconductor production bill passed by Congress is another example of what Pitt’s federal relations team will be working on. The legislation aims to increase domestic production of semiconductors. It includes billions of dollars for manufacturers and authorizes a potential $100 billion over five years for scientific research and other programs. Brown said Pitt would work with other universities to help secure actual credits for the NSF, Department of Energy and other agencies, which would then be channeled to research institutes.

Brown’s background

Brown said taking the job at Pitt was an easy decision.

“The University of Pittsburgh is nationally recognized, certainly from a higher education perspective, but more so from a research perspective,” he said. “It’s one of the top universities for research in the whole country and being an AAU university certainly tells you that it’s a great place.”

He said it was a good time for him and his wife to make a transition – their youngest child is in his second year at university, another is in postgraduate and the third has completed tertiary education. They were also looking to move out of the Washington, DC metro area to a smaller location.

Brown was also pleased to have the opportunity to work with Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, who is the current president of the AAU. Additionally, Brown said, “I was really impressed during the interview with the management team.”

He received his master’s degree in health administration from Virginia Commonwealth University and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia. Prior to USC, Brown worked with leading research universities, including an 11-year tenure with the University of California Health System on issues related to health professions, education and to biomedical research.

Brown succeeds Paul Supowitz, who is now Special Assistant for Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Chancellor. Supowitz joined Pitt in 1997 and has held senior government relations positions since 2002.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Join her at [email protected] or 724-244-4042.

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