22, No. 12, Jan. 23, 2003
executive director for government relations and director of federal
relations, University Office of Governmental Relations, has spent his
16-year career as a liaison between the university and state and federal
legislators. Schoell earned a bachelor’s degree in history and
political science and master’s degree in political science from
the University of Iowa. In his spare time, Schoell enjoys reading about
American history and political and government leaders. He also is a
fan of jazz and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
What does the office of government relations do?
Our principal job is to promote the university’s interests at
the federal and state levels. I work very closely with the [university]
president and the three campus chancellors’ offices and with a
host of national organizations.
We monitor legislation and lobby legislators about laws and issues that
affect the university. We work aggressively to structure laws in ways
that most benefit our students. We’ve been involved in issues
such as student aid, budgetary matters, reporting of campus crime statistics
and changes to immigration laws because of Sept. 11.
December, President Bush signed a bill that will double the National
Science Foundation’s budget. How might this affect the Urbana
It’s particularly important to the Urbana campus because it is
the number one recipient (in terms of universities) of NSF support.
For the fiscal year 2001, we got about $80 million in NSF research funds.
Last year, it was more like $90 million to $100 million. If the NSF
doubles its research budget, it only stands that we would compete successfully
for those additional resources, whether they are in the form of individual
investigative grants or support for centers like the National Center
for Supercomputing Applications.
are going to be the priorities for your office for 2003?
To obtain the best operating and capital budgets we can, once we see
what the new governor’s agenda is, and find ways to advance the
interests of Illinois, from agriculture to transportation and everything
that falls in between. We’ll also be working at the federal level
to augment our research and student-aid programs.
a recent Faculty-Student Senate meeting, some of the senators expressed
concern that homeland security and immigration legislation will adversely
affect the numbers of prospective faculty members and students. Could
On the immigration side, the federal government is requiring universities
to be much more vigilant and comprehensive in their monitoring and administration
of foreign faculty [members] and students. With that presumably comes
some sacrifice of convenience and maybe civil liberties, and that’s
where the tensions are. It’s going to be more difficult to travel
and get extended stays for research purposes. I think they are potentially
right – that it may be more difficult to attract foreign scholarship
On the other hand, I don’t think there’s any alternative
right now. We’ll just have to watch and work with our foreign
student and student aid offices to do our best to ensure that if there
are problems, they get communicated to Congress so we can improve the
the biggest challenge in your job?
Staying on top of all the initiatives and teaming our best and brightest
with the new opportunities at the federal and state levels. Gov. [Rod]
Blagojevich and the new legislators are going to have to learn about
us and education, a process we will undertake aggressively. We want
to ensure they understand all the ways the UI can help the state and
will ideally support us in the most meaningful material ways. As we
roll into the new year, we’ll be enlisting a lot of people to
help work with state and federal legislators. I think that’s going
to be the real challenge: to establish that rapport and articulate that
On the job: Rick Schoell
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
(217) 244-1072; firstname.lastname@example.org