Save the University Internship Program (UIP) at the University of Virginia (UVA)
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For 40+ years, the University Internship Program (UIP) has served as a resource for thousands of students at the University of Virginia to gain real-world field experience via substantive, multi-semester internships. Hundreds of large and small organizations throughout the Charlottesville and Albemarle County communities have benefitted from having high-quality student interns who are challenged and encouraged by the UIP to turn their raw and dynamic experience into insightful revelations, promoting continuous (and documented) personal and professional growth.
All of this is about to be lost.
Archie Holmes (Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs) and Rachel Most (Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs) are in the process of dismantling the UIP. They are doing so behind closed doors and with ZERO input from students, instructors, or internship supervisors/partners.
The UIP is distinguished from other internship programs by its multifaceted and academic approach. Students are not only expected to complete a minimum of 10 hours at their internship sites weekly, they are also required to attend a 110-minute weekly seminar in which they process and reflect on their field experiences in the form of papers, presentations, projects and in-depth group discussions. The academic component of the UIP ensures a level of accountability among interns that has encouraged these prestigious organizations to rely on the UIP for motivated and diligent students. The UIP is a 4-credit (SOC or PSYC), rigorous program that meets, if not exceeds, the academic standards upheld by the University of Virginia. Most UIP students are in their fourth or third year, and have a GPA of 3.3 or greater.
The proposed changes to the program will either eliminate or drastically reduce the weekly seminar component and the number of credits, thereby undermining the professional growth of students and the reliance of the internship sites on insightful, self-aware interns. All alliances with the academic departments will also be severed. The program will be in effect unrecognizable, and the individuals implementing this plan of action have apparently done little to no empirical research on the qualities that have made the UIP a unique and successful academic (and pre-professional) experience for thousands of UVA students for the past 40 years.
How can this be happening without transparency or accountability at a place like the University of Virginia? Is UVA not an institution that values its commitment to the success and empowerment of its students? The decisions being made by Holmes and Most would appear to be in direct conflict with UVA’s aim to be defined by “unwavering support of a collaborative, diverse community bound together by distinctive foundational values of honor, integrity, trust, and respect.”*
Please join us in protest. Let’s:
- Save the UIP.
- Stop the ill-informed assault on this 40-year old academic program.
- Fight for an immediate halt to any further changes to the UIP (including the planned elimination of the 2018 Summer UIP).
- Demand a genuine and public dialogue about the future of the UIP before any further changes are instituted.
- Tell Archie Holmes and Rachel Most that this is not the way things should be happening at UVA.
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