October 1, 2023

Inside Higher Ed, A Growing Corps of ‘Capital Campuses’:

Satellite campuses are proliferating and expanding in Washington, D.C. Not only do they enhance the student experience, but they also give institutions access to policy makers and grant-writing organizations.

Over 40 U.S. colleges and universities have a physical presence in the nation’s capital, ranging from Johns Hopkins University [555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW]—which lies just an hour north in Baltimore—to Pepperdine University [2011 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW], a small Christian institution across the continent in Malibu, Calif.

According to the D.C.-based real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle, 17 of those institutions have full satellite campuses in D.C., complete with classrooms and dorms as well as office space and conference rooms for meetings with policy makers and researchers. In total, nonlocal colleges and universities own about a million square feet of real estate in the city, a little more than one-third of the total aboveground exhibit space occupied by the Smithsonian museums.

Much of this real estate is used to house or provide meeting spaces for student interns, who flock to the city in droves every semester to gain experience in politics, policy making, research and journalism. But higher ed leaders told Inside Higher Ed that they are increasingly looking to establish or fortify bases for developing relationships with policy makers and grant-writing government offices. …

Students see major benefits of their institutions establishing satellite campuses in D.C.—especially if they include residential space. For some, living and studying in a community of their peers in D.C. is just as important as getting an internship on Capitol Hill or at a federal agency. …

Mary Caulfield just finished a “semester abroad” at Pepperdine’s D.C. center, an eight-story building with both residential and class space located on Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks from the White House. She had an internship at a magazine but said that having housing resources, night classes and community in one place helped make her experience more comfortable and kept her tied to her institution on the other side of the country.

“I was raised on the West Coast and lived there my whole life. So jumping to the East Coast was kind of a big transition,” Caulfield said. “Living with the community of Pepperdine, people in the program and having advisers there really helped foster a support system and made it more comfortable.”


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