FIU in D.C.: Taxes and the future of the workforce

As tax policies affecting universities were debated, FIU welcomed student and faculty advocates to D.C.

Tuition deductions at risk in federal tax debate, EPA funding in play  

Legislative action in Washington, D.C., this week centered around House and Senate versions of tax proposals. Both chambers debated measures that would have great impact on universities.

The House passed its tax bill, H.R. 1, by a vote of 227 to 205; the Senate’s finance committee marked up its version, which is expected to have a final vote after Thanksgiving.

The House version would eliminate deductions currently available to university employees using tuition benefits and graduate students who are provided tuition waivers when serving as teaching assistants. The Senate version would maintain these deductions, but raise the threshold for charitable giving deductions, which could impact private contributions to FIU.

Before the Senate takes final action the week after Thanksgiving, FIU advocates are urged to communicate with elected officials the impact these decisions would have on the university community.

Also this week, due to the efforts of Senator Marco Rubio, the Interior Appropriations bill now includes language that would restore geographic research funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, which FIU research depends on. That bill is expected to be voted on in tandem with a spending deal later this year.

The future of the workforce 

FIU in D.C. organizes a three-day, fast-paced dynamic learning experience for Worlds Ahead students twice a year. Last week, 15 students from multidisciplinary fields attended the Fall Fly-In, which addressed the future of the workforce.

The Future of the Workforce Fly-In students

The experience included visits to two think tanks – the American Enterprise Institute and New America – for briefings on their work with current workforce challenges, a visit with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta and a roundtable discussion hosted by Mark B. Rosenberg.

Participants were also treated to intensive training sessions, which earned the students non-credit certificates in advocacy and communications and visits to Google’s policy shop.

The new advocates met with Florida representatives on Capitol Hill, putting to use the lobbying and advocacy training they had learned the day before.

The week ended with a policy hackathon competition between three student teams on solutions for future workforce needs. These proposals will be submitted to the Department of Labor and FIU administration.

Camila Martinez, Daniela Gil, Jessica Virguez, Felipe Colon present at the policy hackathon.

This Fly-In was made possible with the support of the Student Government Association, Office of Campus Life and the Honors College, represented by Interim Dean Juan Carlos Espinosa.

For more information on future visits, click here; to view pictures from the Fly-In, check out FIU in D.C.’s Flicker account.

The future of apprenticeships

On Nov. 13, Rosenberg participated in the first meeting of the White House and Department of Labor’s Commission on the Future of Apprenticeships, convened by Secretary Acosta.

The panel brings together leaders from the private sector, associations and academia to make recommendations on incentivizing more organizations to create apprenticeships, while addressing the skills gap. It is expected to meet a few more times in the next six months.

ELEP comes to D.C.

This year’s cohort of FIU’s prestigious Educational Leadership Enhancement Program held its first higher education policy summit in Washington, D.C., visiting champions on the Hill, the National Academy of the Sciences and the New America Foundation.

ELEP participants Katerina Bryant, Helen Gonzalez, Kerrie Anne Montgomery, Isis Artze-Vega, Maria Rosado and Claudia Gonzalez.

Between training sessions on advocacy and university research, group members were able to witness the deliberation on breaking issues such as DACA and tax policy as well as participate in the Department of Labor’s apprenticeship task force.

Women leadership dialogue 

Also last week, the annual Maria Elena Toraño Leadership Dialogue was convened, featuring a dynamic mix of women leaders who dissected challenges in leadership roles throughout many stages of an individual’s career.

The curated group included 25 leaders from government, the corporate sector and the media, as well as visiting administrators and students from FIU. Among the participants were Captain Mercedes Benitez-McCrary of the U.S. Public Health Service Commission; Katherine Vargas from Google; and Vice President of Academic Affairs Elizabeth Bejar. The dialogue was moderated by Mayra Beers, co-director of the Center for Leadership.

Michelle Palacios, Captain Mercedes Benitez-McCrary, Maria Elena Toraño  and Katherine Vargas during the leadership dialogue

Maria Elena Toraño, an accomplished leader in business and government service and big supporter of FIU in Washington, D.C., shared insights from her successful career.

“With refreshing candor, Maria Elena Toraño detailed her career trajectory, the obstacles she overcame along the way and the strategies that served her well—thereby inspiring a new generation of women leaders to embrace the unknown, follow in her footsteps and make their own mark,” said Isis Artze-Vega, assistant vice president of Teaching and Learning at FIU’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching

Because of Toraño, FIU students are able to utilize an active space in D.C. and the women’s leadership dialogue will be a signature feature of FIU in D.C. programming.

Give Miami Day benefits FIU in D.C. 

Once again, FIU in D.C. was the beneficiary of critical funds raised during the Miami Foundation’s Give Miami Day.

For the second year in a row, FIU’s beloved Ruth Hamilton, retired director of Graham University Center, continued her commitment to the Make a Difference D.C. Fund and made a challenge gift to incentivize alumni to donate. The fund provides internship opportunities to students in the nation’s capital. Please consider donating today.

Ian Wallace, Kerry-Ann Barrett, Leo Taddeo & Brian Zang

eMerge rendezvous

On Nov. 9, FIU in D.C. celebrated the opening of eMerge Americas Washington, D.C., office with Miami-inspired cocktails and light bites.

The rendezvous included a discussion on cybersecurity with guests from Cyxtera Technologies, Virtru, Organization of American StatesNew America and FIU.

Panthers spotted in D.C.

George Corton and Joe Hornstein, University Advancement

Dr.  Sergio Gonzalez-Arias, executive associate dean for Clinical Affairs, FIU College of Medicine

Michelle Palacio, vice president of Government Relations

Saif Ishoof, vice president of the Office of Engagement

Dr. Andres Gil, vice president of the Office of Research and Economic Development

Dr. Bill Vega, senior health scholar