Joyce Rechtschaffen to retire after 17 years as head of government affairs office

Joyce Rechtschaffen, associate vice president for government affairs at Princeton University, announced plans to retire in March 2024. Rechtschaffen, a 1975 Princeton graduate, has led the University’s Office of Government Affairs in Washington, D.C., since 2006.

“For nearly two decades, Joyce Rechtschaffen has been the gold standard among government affairs officials at American universities,” said Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber. “She provided a rare combination of top-notch intelligence, political knowledge, technical expertise, unparalleled expertise, and total dedication to the University’s mission. Joyce has taught me a lot about Washington and it has been a pleasure to work with her.”

Julie Groeninger, currently director of government affairs, has been named to succeed Rechtschaffen as associate vice president of government affairs.

“The appointment of Julie Groeninger will allow Princeton to go from strength to strength,” Eisgruber said. “She is already a star respected by her peers and by senior policymakers throughout Washington. “I look forward to continuing my work with her as she takes on this new leadership role.”

The Office of Government Affairs, overseen by Vice President of Communications and Government Affairs Gadi Dechter, manages federal relations on behalf of the University, advocating for Princeton within Congress and the executive branch for policies and programs that advance core research missions and university teaching.

The office also works closely with higher education associations and other colleges and universities to support issues of importance to educational and research institutions across the country.

Rechtschaffen said it has been a “privilege to work under the leadership of two University presidents, President Eisgruber and President Emerita Shirley M. Tilghman, who are committed to federal advocacy that advances the University’s mission.”

He added: “It has also been a pleasure to collaborate with incredible colleagues at the University, as well as wonderful professors and students.”

Rechtschaffen has worked on a wide range of policies and programs that are central to Princeton’s teaching and research mission, including university management of the Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and funding basic research in the natural sciences. , humanities and social sciences.

He often joined colleagues from the country’s top research universities to work with lawmakers on proposals ranging from education policies to funding for agencies like the National Science Foundation.

“I am deeply proud of our work to secure funding for the nation’s science and humanities agencies, which, in turn, becomes the basis for grants that enable innovative research conducted by our faculty and students,” Rechtschaffen said. “In particular, we have made enormous progress in educating policymakers about the critical need to fund fusion energy research to help address the climate change crisis, while highlighting the great contributions of the Physics Laboratory of the Princeton plasma to that effort.”

In 2020, Rechtschaffen received the 2020 Legacy Award from the Association of American Universities (AAU) “in recognition of his distinguished contributions and national leadership in the higher education community.”

Rechtschaffen has also played an important role in supporting Princeton’s efforts to make higher education more affordable, particularly for low-income students. He helped lead the University’s advocacy, along with New Jersey colleges and universities, to double the maximum Federal Pell Grant for low-income students.

“I really enjoy informing officials about Princeton’s unwavering commitment to expanding educational opportunities for low- and middle-income students,” he said. “We are honored to present our track record of increasing the number of Pell Grant recipients on campus, as well as our leadership role in eliminating the need for students to take out loans.”

Rechtschaffen’s work on immigration policy has been critical to the University’s ability to welcome students, faculty and staff from around the world. She said an important part of her role is to address proposals that could impede universities’ ability to teach and conduct research.

“For example, we worked under President Eisgruber’s leadership and with colleagues across the University to defeat proposals that would have severely limited the ability of international students, researchers, and staff to study, teach, and work at American universities and would have restricted international collaborations. “. she said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rechtschaffen was part of the team that established the on-campus COVID testing lab, which was essential in supporting the university community during the height of the pandemic.

Rechtschaffen’s role has also included bringing together faculty, administrators, and students with policymakers to share research and ideas on pressing issues such as climate change, as well as organizing programs for Princeton students and alumni in Washington, DC.

Prior to joining the Office of Governmental Affairs, Rechtschaffen spent 17 years as a staff member in the United States Senate. She worked for former Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman as staff director on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and counsel to the Nuclear Regulation and Clean Air Subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee. In those roles, she worked on legislation establishing the Department of Homeland Security, the 9/11 Commission, and the Director of National Intelligence. She also worked on amendments to the Clean Air Act of 1990 and climate change legislation.

Prior to that, she was a senior attorney for the Environmental Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice and practiced litigation at a law firm. Rechtschaffen earned her bachelor’s degree from Princeton, majoring in the School of Public and International Affairs, and earned her law degree from Harvard University.

Following Rechtschaffen’s retirement, Groeninger will lead Princeton’s Office of Government Affairs, where he has done seminal work on a number of key issues since 2011, including fusion research, a NASA telescope project, and federal immigration policies. .

In 2022, he received the President’s Achievement Award, which annually honors employees’ “commitment to excellence and exceptional performance.”

Groeninger works closely with leaders at the University and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and currently co-chairs the Energy Sciences Coalition, a consortium of universities, national laboratories, and industrial partners that supports the Department’s Office of Science of Energy.

She has served as chair of the AAU Council on Federal Relations, Immigration Working Group, and Innovation Working Group, and currently co-chairs the Science and Security Working Group. She received the AAU “Ripple Effect Award” in recognition of her public service contributions to the higher education community.

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