The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Chancellor Diermeier meets with members of Congress to advocate for research, higher education funding

Diermeier also hosted a reception to honor members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation.
Harrison McClary
Chancellor Daniel Diermeier speaks to Tennessee congressional delegation during his Washington, D.C., visit. (Photo courtesy of Harrison McClary)

Chancellor Daniel Diermeier visited Washington, D.C., this summer to show support for federal investments in research and higher education on a trip organized by the Vanderbilt Office of Federal Relations. 

Diermeier met with Senator Marsha Blackburn, Senator Bill Hagerty (BA’81, JD’84), Representative Chuck Fleischmann and Representative David Kustoff — all of whom are Republican members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation. 

“The meetings were very productive and covered a lot of territory — including the need for federal support for investments in research and student aid,” Diermeier said in an email to The Hustler. “We also talked about various initiatives we’re leading at Vanderbilt in partnership with others across the state, particularly around automotive innovation and smart mobility. I always appreciate the opportunity to build relationships with our elected officials and find ways we can work collaboratively to advance the university’s priorities.”

So far, 54 Vanderbilt alumni have been elected to Congress. The majority of them have been male, and before 1964, most were Democrats. Political party realignment occurred following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, after which the majority of alumni began to swing toward the Republican Party. 

After the meetings, Diermeier hosted a congressional reception in the U.S. Capitol to honor members of the Tennessee congressional delegation. Diermeier specifically recognized new delegation members — Hagerty and Representatives Diana Harshbarger and Andy Ogles. Other Vanderbilt alumni in attendance were Arkansas Republican Representative French Hill (BS’79) and Louisiana Republican Senator John Neely Kennedy (BA’73). Also in attendance were juniors Ainsley Gill, Zacarias Negron and Matthew Shipley, as well as senior Chase Mandell. Shipley is a Senior Staff Writer for The Hustler. Gill and Mandell declined to comment.

Negron said the experience highlighted the importance of regular engagement with policymakers, regardless of political affiliation, to best address student needs. 

"Interning on Capitol Hill, you recognize — for better or worse — the importance of being in the room to get real things accomplished in Congress,” Negron said. “In speaking with Vanderbilt Federal Relations staff and others on the Hill, I was pleasantly surprised to see high levels of bipartisan support for our school and, more specifically, for funding its endeavors to equip its students and spur innovation."

Executive board members of the Vanderbilt College Republicans and Vanderbilt College Democrats both said they support Diermeier’s efforts to meet with Tennessee’s congressional delegation and advocate for federal research. 

“As a research institution, it is important for Vanderbilt to stay involved with our government to ensure that research gets the funding it deserves,” VCD Vice President of Public Relations Sawyer Sussner said. “VCD also applauds our graduates who have found careers in politics and hopes that they use their education to create positive change in our society.”

Shane Mumma (‘23), former president of Vanderbilt College Republicans, attested to the importance of such connections. He said he was able to facilitate meetings with Representative Tim Burchett, Representative Mark Green and Blackburn during his time in VCR. 

“I think it’s wonderful how many Vanderbilt alumni are making big waves in the political sphere,” Mumma said. “I feel incredibly well-equipped with my Vanderbilt education and experiences at the university to pursue politics myself one day, like all these other accomplished alumni, after I finish my education.”

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About the Contributor
Rhea Patney
Rhea Patney, Managing Editor
Rhea Patney (‘26) is majoring in medicine, health and society and communication of science and technology on the pre-med track in the College of Arts and Science. She is from St. Louis and previously served as Deputy Data Director. When not writing for The Hustler, Rhea loves reading, starting new TV shows and struggling to finish them, playing sports and watching sunsets with her friends. She can be reached at [email protected].
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