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Office of Government Relations

    Capitol building in Richmond
    Capitol building in Richmond
    Commonwealth seal and motto
    Hokie Day 2013


Hokie Day 2013: Nearly 180 students and alumni gathered on the South Portico of the Capitol for a picture with Governor Bob McDonnell, and Secretaries Doug Domenech and Laura Fornash.
For a recap of this year's two day event, click on the article from our 2013 General Assembly Fellow, Lindsay Barker


Mission Statement:
The Office of Government Relations facilitates communications between the university community and elected officials and government entities at the state and federal levels. We monitor legislative issues and activities in Richmond and Washington, work with other colleges and universities in support of higher education, and provide information and analysis to decision makers within government and the university. The office cultivates relationships with elected and appointed officials in an effort to create understanding of issues important to higher education and support for the university's initiatives. As the primary liaison between state and federal governments and the university, the office coordinates campus visits by government officials to provide information with respect to the University's research, facilities, and programs. The office also provides information to the university community with respect to protocol in contacting government officials, requesting government action on behalf of the university, and scheduling campus visits. Please contact us at governmentrelations@vt.edu.

Policy Statement on Communication with Government Officials:
The President is responsible for developing all University positions on State and Federal legislation and regulations and for coordinating University relations with the General Assembly, the Governor, Congress, Cabinet Secretaries, Executive Branch officials, State and Federal agencies, Congressional and legislative staff, and any and all communication with government officials concerning official University positions on policy issues.

The University's policy on communication with government officials in no way restricts the right of any employee (i.e. faculty, classified and University staff, professional research staff, etc...) from communicating their personal opinions with government officials.  However, when communicating such personal opinions it is the affirmative responsibility of all employees not to represent their personal opinions as positions or policies of the University, unless the President has specifically authorized them to do so. 

University employees should use neither University letterhead nor electronic mail sent through University mail servers to communicate their personal opinions or positions on political issues unrelated to the University. Legislative or Congressional Testimony or other communication on behalf of professional societies or other academic organizations should be coordinated with the Office of Government Relations.  In this case "coordinated" simply means notification in advance.

State Government:
State law directives from the Office of the Governor require the University to designate official spokespersons to communicate its positions to the General Assembly and to coordinate its legislative proposals through the Governor's Cabinet Secretaries.  The University President and other specifically designated by the President are authorized spokespersons.  The Executive Director of Government Relations oversees all state legislative relations.  This office coordinates all presentations to legislators, legislative committees, and letters and electronic communications to elected officials on behalf of the University concerning policy or funding issues.  This office coordinates relations with the Governor's Office, General Assembly, Cabinet Secretaries, State agencies, and legislative staff and works closely with our Vice Presidents, Deans, Departmental Chairs and faculty members to ensure coordination.  In the event that University faculty or staff is contacted by a Member of staff of the General Assembly to testify before a committee or otherwise engage with the General Assembly with regard to their personal and/or professional expertise, such faculty and staff should notify and coordinate with the Office of Government Relations.  Faculty and staff must note that their testimonies do not represent the official position of the University, unless otherwise authorized by the President. 

Federal Government:
The Director of Federal Relations and the Executive Director of Government Relations oversee federal relations.  These officials coordinate all presentations to Congressional offices, Congressional committees, and letters and electronic communications to federal elected officials their staffs on behalf of the University concerning policy or funding issues. Requests for meetings with Members of Congress or with Congressional staff to discuss funding requests or policies affecting the University must be coordinated with the Office of Government Relations.  In the event that University faculty or staff is contacted by a Member of Congress or Congressional staff to testify before a Congressional committee or otherwise engage with the Congress with regard to their personal and/or professional expertise, such faculty and staff should notify and coordinate with the Office of Government Relations.  Faculty and staff must note that their testimonies do not represent the official position of the University, unless otherwise authorized by the President. 

Visits to Campus by Officials:
Visits to campus by elected and appointed officials and their staff members, state and federal, are an important part of government relations efforts and are encouraged.  Invitations to certain officials (e.g. Governor, U.S. Senators, Cabinet Secretaries) in most cases should be extended by the President of the University.  However, all invitations to these officials and visits to campus should be coordinated with the Office of Government Relations.

Procedures: 
In order to manage and coordinate communications regarding government policies, funding issues, or visits to campus by government officials contact the Office of Government Relations by phone (540-231-7111), email (governmentrelations@vt.edu), or at 219 Burruss Hall. 

Contact Us

Blacksburg Office

Ralph Byers
Executive Director of Government Relations
219 Burruss Hall
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
540-231-7111 (Phone)
540-231-2337 (Fax)
byers@vt.edu

Margie Murray
Special Events Coordinator
President's Staff
219 Burruss Hall
540-231-5637 (Phone)
540-231-2337 (Fax)
MBMURRAY@vt.edu

Christine McCann
Administrative Assistant
219 Burruss Hall
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
540-231-7111 (Phone)
540-231-2337 (Fax)
cimccann@vt.edu

Richmond Office

Elizabeth Hooper
State Legislative Liaison
11 South 12th Street, Suite 202
Richmond, Virginia 23219
804-786-1604 (Phone)
804-786-0590 (Fax)
ehooper@vt.edu

Phil Leone
Special Projects Assistant 
11 South 12th Street, Suite 202
Richmond, VA 23219
804-786-8127 (Phone)
804-786-0590 (Fax) 
pleone@vt.edu

Nancy Hagen
Administrative Staff Assistant
11 South 12 th Street, Suite 202
Richmond, Virginia 23219
804-786-8110 (Phone)
804-786-0590 (Fax)
nhagen@vt.edu

Arlington Office

Christopher Yianilos
Director of Federal Relations
900 N. Glebe Road, Suite 2-316
Arlington, VA 22203
571-858-3005 (Office)
chrisyianilos@vt.edu

Dave Tinsley
Federal Legislative Liaison
900 N. Glebe Road, Suite 2-316
Arlington, VA 22203
571-858-3316
davetinsley@vt.edu