* My former intern Kevin Fanning fervently asked that I post this. So, here you go…
Last week I was informed that the university plans to eliminate the Civic Leadership Program. If not for this program I would never have had the opportunity to intern at Capitol Fax or had the multitude of experiences that came with it.
The Civic Leadership Program is a unique two-and-a-half-year undergraduate and graduate program for students interested in working in the public sector that culminates in an intensive internship. It is open to students of all majors, and was modeled off of the highly successful Illinois Legislative Studies Internship Program at UIS which boasts alumni such as Governor Jim Edgar, Sen. Kirk Dillard, and U.S. Judge Wayne R. Andersen.
The program has placed students in the General Assembly, Governor’s Office, Federal Reserve, Chicago Tribune, and even at the White House. The program has a budget of $150,000, a mere drop in the bucket of Illinois’ $1.5 billion budget. Approximately 90% of this budget is used to fund these internships. The time spent at these positions is invaluable, and provides a kind of education unparalleled by the classroom. While interning at Cap Fax I was able to learn how legislation actually gets passed, what role the media plays in the governing process, and how labor, lobbyists, and constituents influence their lawmakers. You simply can’t learn that sitting at a desk.
The University of Illinois’ mission statement aims to “transform lives and serve society by educating, creating knowledge and putting knowledge to work on a large scale and with excellence.” It’s time for the administration to put their money where their mouth is, and support students who are looking to make a difference in their communities, the state of Illinois, and our country. Please urge Chancellor Phyllis Wise and the Board of Trustees not to eliminate the Civic Leadership Program.
Former Capitol Fax Intern
Civic Leadership Fellow, Class of 2009
I had a lot of very quality interns from that program. Budget cuts are what they are, but it would be a shame to see that one go. People actually got jobs when they left that program. Good jobs. It has been by any measure a rousing success.