At the Federal level, the Office of Government Relations works directly with congressional staff on all policy issues impacting higher education. We also develop earmark requests for funding of research and university projects. As part of the President's staff, The Office of Government Relations represents the University of Memphis through direct contact with elected officials, as well as with administrators within various federal agencies. Our staff monitors legislation and budget appropriations, in addition to assisting federal staff members to host various events from year to year on major policy issues.
Biofuels Micro-Refineries for Local Sustainability
The Center for Biofuel Energy and Sustainable Technologies (BEST) at the University of Memphis was established to formulate effective holistic responses to our national energy system challenges. At present, the biofuel industry is undergoing rapid evolution. Every day brings the announcement of a new scientific discovery or achievement related to a new feedstock or conversion process. This University of Memphis program will establish local micro-refineries, capable of supplying energy required to support the local community utilizing completely renewable resources. This approach of harnessing renewable resources produced locally, such as used vegetable oil, brown grease from waste grease traps, and waste wood and paper products, will dramatically expand the number of communities and states that would benefit economically from the use of renewable fuels. These micro-refineries will use local waste and biomass, while being locally owned and operated.
Memphis Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation
The Memphis area is the major economic center for West Tennessee and the Mid-South region. Memphis has a strong history of entrepreneurship, but lags behind other regions of the nation in creating new businesses and, in particular, knowledge-based businesses. Because of this regional economic need, the University of Memphis is creating the Memphis Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Led by the FedEx Institute of Technology, and partnering with the Fogelman College of Business and Finance and the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, the Center will provide the expertise to deliver a "one-stop shop" model for entrepreneurs. The Center will connect entrepreneurs to the public and private resource pools necessary for business growth, while providing business and legal expertise.
Water Resources Development Act
After years of negotiating, in 2007 Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) by overriding a presidential veto. Once approved, WRDA authorized a collection of Army Corps of Engineers water infrastructure projects totaling $23 billion. Supporters of WRDA believe the high cost can be attributed to the backlog of projects since WRDA was last updated in 2000. It is supposed to be updated every year. Included in the Act, the Mississippi Embayment Groundwater Project, a collaboration between the University of Memphis, Arkansas State, and the University of Mississippi, is authorized for $5 million.
Memphis-Shelby County Operation Safe Communities
The University of Memphis, the City of Memphis, Shelby County, and other law enforcement agencies have partnered their efforts to fight violent crime and gang violence in Memphis. The University received a combined total of $2.452 million from federal earmarks in FY'08, all of which is being contributed to this community partnership.
The CERI is one of six regional centers funded by U.S. Geological Survey dedicated to providing research and information about earthquake hazards as part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS). CERI receives funding from the state of Tennessee both directly and through the university. The University of Memphis CERI possesses unique research capabilities in seismic hazard and is poised to become a national leader in seismic analysis. It is critical that ANSS appropriation is funded at its annual authorization of $36 million. An increase in funding will allow the USGS ANSS program to expand its research capabilities, as well as directly impact the CERI at the UofM.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Research and Innovative Technology Administration awarded the Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute at the University of Memphis, in a consortia partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the coveted designation as a Tier 1 University Transportation Center worth $3.5 million for two years.
Intelligent Network-Centric Sensor Development Program
A challenge for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is fighting unknown adversaries that can exploit our lack of situational awarness. Innovative technologies are critical for effective defense efforts. To build upon the FY10 funding the University of Memphis will continue to work toward requesting funding from the DoD for persistent surveillance and synergistic sensor research, including but not limited to networked sensors, network security, and sensor fusion techniques.