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Ben Miller goes to Washington

Ben Miller has been named interim director of federal relations for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a role he begins Sept. 8.

A former aide to U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, Miller  came to campus in 2004 to serve as the CALS  associate dean for external relations. He also served as chief of staff to the vice chancellor for university relations and has been associate director for external relations for the Wisconsin Energy Institute since March of 2012. Prior to his work with Kohl, Miller worked for Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, a UW-Madison graduate who is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Miller replaces Rhonda Norsetter, who recently retired. The six-month appointment will bring him to Washington, D.C. for the first three months.

More than 30 percent of UW-Madison’s overall budget comes from federal programs. Thirty-five percent of all financial aid grants, as well as 90 percent of loans and work-study money, come from federal aid.

“An organization of our size is greatly impacted by decisions made in Washington,” Miller says. “This is an excellent opportunity to enhance the UW-Madison presence through direct and sustained interaction with stakeholders.”

In his role, Miller will maintain relationships with Wisconsin’s congressional delegation, strengthen relationships with faculty who are active in D.C., and bolster partnerships with federal agencies and other higher education and scientific organizations located in the nation’s capital. Laila Robbins, assistant director of federal relations, will continue her role of serving as a primary point of contact on campus for federal relations questions.

“Ben brings to this position a background that is ideally suited to help us maintain and strengthen important relationships  in D.C.,” says Vince Sweeney, vice chancellor for university relations. “His experience as a senior staffer on Capitol Hill combined with his work at CALS and the Wisconsin Energy Institute will help us greatly as we develop a long-term vision and strategy for our federal relations efforts.”

Among the issues Miller will keep a watchful eye on are the impacts of the sequester, the 2014 budget and the discussion over college affordability.

“Now more than ever, it is really important for the UW to be a part of the national  policy and budget conversations impacting the future of higher education,” Miller says.  “I look forward to using our presence and partnerships in D.C. to ensure that UW-Madison’s voice continues to be heard and considered in those decisions.”

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