Tech is a community built on collaboration. From the cross-disciplinary research being conducted in our labs to the blended learning occurring in our classrooms, our campus derives much of its strength through the sharing of diverse ideas and cooperative approaches to work. These cooperative contributions do not just originate internally; our Institute is also strengthened through the support of external stakeholders. Tech is the institution it is today thanks to the government and community leaders on the local, state and federal levels.

My colleagues and I in Government and Community Relations work daily to foster these partnerships and pursue the Institute’s priorities. We engage with surrounding neighborhoods to ensure that Tech remains a good neighbor and serves nearby communities. We work closely with leaders in the State Capitol to secure funding for teaching and facilities and policies that foster our work. We share relevant knowledge with our congressional delegation and seek support for our expanding research enterprise.

However, our relatively small unit cannot be successful on its own. Our work is truly a team effort, and it involves the entire campus community. Working with the campus community has led us to a number of notable achievements in recent years. The Clough Commons is a prime example. Clough Commons reflects an investment of $60 million in state funding. These funds were secured thanks to the collaborative work of our partners across campus: students, faculty, staff and even alumni uniting behind a common goal. The result has been an incredible facility whose value is clear.

Clough Commons is just a single illustration of how we can work together to achieve great things for our Institute, and students are among our strongest advocates in these pursuits. For the third year this past January, our student leaders hosted a Tech Student Day at the State Capitol to share their stories and show appreciation for our supporters in the General Assembly. Legislators and staffers continue to approach us with kind regards for these students who visited and pledges of assistance for our campus efforts.

Opportunities for students to engage as promoters of the Institute to these external stakeholders abound, particularly in regard to internships. Our office sponsors spring internships at the State Capitol and summer internship opportunities in Washington, D.C. I encourage you to connect with my office if you are interested in exploring these programs.

Even after graduation, there remains an avenue for alumni to participate on our team. A number of our alumni and friends make up a group we call the Capitol Jackets that supports our outreach efforts at the State Capitol. These individuals help us share our Tech priorities on a constituent-to-legislator plane and serve as living proof of the value of a Tech degree. This year, these advocates have been instrumental in building support for our Engineered Biosystems Building (EBB) project, which has been recommended by Governor Deal and the Board of Regents to receive $59 million in bond funds next fiscal year. As you move past graduation and connect with leaders in the community where you work and live, I hope that you will consider joining this group to not only stay up to date with campus initiatives but also help us to continue building support for your alma mater and projects like the EBB.

Though we at Tech often joke about being “inside the bubble,” the Atlanta skyline is a proper reminder that our Institute is not an island. We exist as we are today thanks to the support of the numerous communities of which we are a part. As we work toward President Peterson’s strategic goal of presence on the national and international stages, these symbiotic relationships will only become more important. I am appreciative of your help as a member of our team in building these collaborations, and I hope to have your assistance in strengthening them in coming days.