Neil Canfield has joined the University of Michigan’s Office of Federal Relations, based in Washington, D.C., and will work with government partners and the university community to support and strengthen its research enterprise.
Canfield began as director of federal relations April 26 after serving in a variety of government leadership positions. The Office of Federal Relations is supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of the Vice President for Government Relations.
“Neil has extensive experience working across the federal government, which will make him an effective advocate for the university and an asset to the federal relations team,” said Kristina Ko, executive director of federal relations for the Office of Federal Relations and assistant vice president for research — federal relations for research.
In his new role, Canfield will inform and advise U-M teams on federal legislative, regulatory and research policy developments that affect university research operations. The federal government remains the largest sponsor of U-M research, and during fiscal year 2020 the university reported $887 million in federally sponsored research.
“He is an effective relationship builder and a strategic communicator, and these talents will support the university’s bipartisan relationships with congressional stakeholders and executive branch leadership, which are necessary in supporting federal partnerships that strengthen our national security and the health of society,” said Chris Kolb, vice president for government relations.
Canfield will work to expand connections between Washington and the university by supporting faculty who collaborate with federal policymakers and identifying opportunities for U-M experts to contribute to the national research agenda. He will assess and provide input regarding pertinent legislation and regulations, all while considering the variety of needs and priorities of the administration, federal agencies, Congress and the U-M community.
“More than 50 percent of the university’s total research volume is sponsored by the federal government, and that incredible support year in and year out allows our research community to address important challenges with broad societal impact,” said Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine.
“I am confident that, with the addition of Neil Canfield, the Office of Federal Relations will have even greater capacity to catalyze, support and safeguard the innovative research and scholarship endeavors emanating from our three campuses.”
Prior to joining U-M, Canfield spent seven years as an adviser to the National Science Foundation director and other agency officials. He was detailed to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he supported its director and the U.S. chief technology officer, while also representing the administration’s science and technology policy priorities to Congress.
He worked for U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Holland, who represents Michigan’s Second Congressional District, and also served as a professional staff member for the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Canfield is a native of west Michigan and received a bachelor’s degree in politics and public service from Denison University.