Intern Program



October 12, 2001

I write to you with sad news. The latest round of state budget cuts has caused us to end the Institute of Government Summer Intern Program. Our permanent state funding has been cut by $120,000 in the latest budget--that's about two and half percent of our budget. And we face additional cuts mid-year. We are able to satisfy about half of the current permanent cut by ending the intern program.

We decided we must reduce our budget in a way that has (1) the least effect on our employees, and (2) the lowest impact on our core services to local and state government officials. Our difficult conclusion was that ending the intern program is the only way to meet these criteria. Additionally, the decision will free up other funds we will need to continue core services in the face of more reductions.

We recognize the importance of the intern program and our decision was painfully made only after much consideration. For four decades the program has provided many students with opportunities to learn about state and local government while performing meaningful public service for the State of North Carolina. Many former interns have gone on to lengthy and rewarding careers in public service.

Mindful of the program's value, we have worked hard to preserve it in the face of past budget cuts. Since 1991, the Institute’s appropriated budget has been reduced permanently eight separate times. State appropriations fund about two-thirds of our overall budget. We rely on receipts from Institute activities to support the remaining third.

We have preserved the program by using receipts from other activities to support it, while the state appropriation for the program has remained unchanged. Since 1988, the General Assembly has annually provided an appropriation of about $34,000 to support the intern program. We absorbed an intern wage increase from $5 per hour to $6.75 per hour in 1998, after failing to convince the General Assembly to fund an increase. We increased the student coordinator wage in order to stay competitive as well. In an attempt to reduce program expenses, we shrank the program from a high of about 30 interns in the early 1990’s to 20 interns over the past few summers.

In 2001 the intern wages alone were approximately $57,000--considerably more than the $34,000 appropriation. In 2001 the Institute absorbed about $55,000 in out-of-pocket expenses over and above the appropriation. Additionally, we have never recovered any reimbursement for Institute personnel who work with the program. An Institute faculty member (Mark Botts in 2001) directed the program each summer, and an Institute staff member (Carolyn Boggs) oversaw the day-to-day operations. While the intern program comprises only a partial responsibility for each of these people, contribution of their time is essential to the program's success.

We hope--in time--that enough interest can be generated to revive the intern program either through state appropriation or private giving.  In that event, we may need to call on you. At this time, however, we must concentrate on fund raising to complete our building renovation project.

We appreciate your gracious assistance over the years. We could not have been successful without the dedicated efforts of many of you who recruited applicants, interviewed intern candidates, supervised interns, or contributed valuable time and experiences in uncountable other ways.  Thanks for your service to the program.

Michael R. Smith

Dean, UNC School of Government

Institute of Government