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Government Relations Update

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Jeremy Haefner

Letter  •

Dear DU Community,

In this critical time for higher education and the economy, I am writing to let you know that we have been working closely with the government officials who are entrusted with deciding how to allocate COVID-19 emergency resources that could potentially benefit higher education institutions, including the University of Denver. Stephanie O’Malley (JD ’89), our new associate vice chancellor for government and community relations, has been closely monitoring legislative actions related to COVID-19 relief, and together, we have been proactively communicating through letters and phone calls to elected officials and others.

On behalf of DU, we have written to each member of our congressional delegation and participated in briefings provided by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner of Colorado. I have also spoken with U.S. Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado’s 6th congressional district. On each occasion, we have stressed the importance of recognizing the contributions made by higher education on research, knowledge, work-force training, civic engagement, and contributing to our local and state economies. We want to ensure that our mission and contributions are ever-present as the federal government continues to implement and consider federal stimulus plans.

On the state level, we have appealed to Gov. Polis to urge him to include the University of Denver as he contemplates how best to distribute part of the total of $44.25 billion in appropriations that are specifically earmarked in the federal CARES Act for education, including higher education. Under the CARES Act, governors across the nation are given wide discretion to deliver their state’s allocation of these specific funds. We have shared with Gov. Polis how critical it is to keep all institutions, private and public, at the forefront of his discretionary authority.

We have also reached out to Angie Paccione, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and emphasized the importance of keeping DU at the table as the department supports the governor to prioritize CARES Act appropriations. In a related strategy, we have advocated to former Denver Mayor Federico Peña, who is co-chair of the Governor’s Emergency Council on Economic Development, to add a new subcommittee to specifically consider and address the needs of higher education institutions. At both the local and state levels, we have continued to monitor and abide by official proclamations including those concerning stay-at-home and essential-business orders.   

On behalf of the entire University community, we will remain connected to our government representatives for however long it takes to recover from the effects of COVID-19. And you have my commitment to keep you apprised as we learn the results of our ongoing engagement.


Jeremy Haefner