City management fellowship to provide new opportunity for master's students

Monday, August 22, 2011 | 6:04 p.m. CDT; updated 12:13 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 23, 2011

COLUMBIA — Master's students at the MU Truman School of Public Affairs will have a new job opportunity in Columbia after spring graduation.

City Manager Mike Matthes proposed a management fellowship program in his budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The management fellow would replace the position of assistant to the city manager and, Matthes said, save the city money.

Matthes will meet with Barton Wechsler, director of the Truman School of Public Affairs, Aug. 30 to discuss building a relationship between the school and the city government to fill the fellowship.

The fellowship would last two years and include a salary around $35,000 per year, Matthes said.

“It’s a tremendous deal for taxpayers,” he said.

The fellowship would offer a chance for recent graduates to get their foot in the door and gain extended experience in city government. Lelande Rehard, a master's student who just completed a summer internship with the city manager's office, said it's a good opportunity.

“You get a leg up in the job market,” Rehard said, adding that a two-year fellowship would give someone the chance to do even more substantial work.

Rehard was the last summer intern for the city manager. Part of the money for the fellowship will come from that program.

Job duties for the new fellowship would include helping set up public meetings, analyzing ideas for city government and measuring performance. Rotations in city government departments would also be part of the fellowship to add help where it’s needed, Matthes said.

“We’ve had a long relationship with the city where students have done internships; this (fellowship) will add and complement this," Wechsler said.

Matthes said the ideal fellowship candidate would be:

  • Passionate about service.
  • A people person.
  • Motivated by making life better for people that live in Columbia.
  • Have a great work ethic and good research skills.
  • “Willing to do just about any of the work involved in city government, from catching up on bills and doing invoices, all the way to some analysis on a public policy issue.”

Matthes and Wechsler have not yet worked out the details of the management fellowship, but Matthes said he expects to hire the first fellow in May 2012.

Although the Columbia City Council still has to approve the budget proposing the fellowship, Fifth Ward Councilwoman Helen Anthony is looking at it favorably. "Personally, I see no disadvantage (to the fellowship)," she said.

Second Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill said he believes the majority of the council favors the fellowship. He said the council was looking for innovation when it hired a city manager from outside Columbia.

"This is exactly the kind of idea we were hoping for," he said.

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