The Institute of Government officially becomes the School of Government today. Chancellor James Moeser formally announced the change at Thursday's Board of Trustees meeting.
"The new designation only strengthens the University's resolve to provide compelling service to the state through the school," Moeser said at the meeting.
Mike Smith, the director of the institute since 1992, will become dean of the new school and will become a member of the chancellor's Cabinet.
Most who were involved were excited about the change to school status but said the difference would basically be in name only.
"The recognition is important, but it's not changing our mission," Smith said.
Officials said the school will continue to fulfill the two main purposes of the institute: providing nonpartisan information to N.C. government officials and housing the master's of public administration program. The MPA is a two-year graduate degree that prepares students for jobs in government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
As of now, no programs for undergraduates are offered at the school.
Albert Coates founded the institute in 1931 as a private organization. The institute joined the University in 1942.
The MPA program became a part of the institute four years ago. It was formerly part of the Department of Political Science, but administrators thought it fit better at the institute than in the general university curriculum.
The idea to acknowledge the institute as a school was first floated less than one year ago. Smith said former interim Provost Dick Edwards was instrumental in moving the process forward.
Because the institute's degree program and funding mechanism will remain unchanged, officials said the process of converting to a school was simple and approval from the Board of Governors was unnecessary. "It's surprising how easy it was," said Steve Allred, associate provost of academic affairs, who was a professor at the institute for 15 years.
Students in the MPA program were enthusiastic about the change.
"This recognizes the strength of the MPA program," said Chelsa Kenney, a second-year student from Austin, Texas. "This puts us on the same level as other (school of government) graduates throughout the country."
The MPA students said being equal to other graduate programs at UNC will be valuable. "We now have a dean to represent us, and that helps," said Erin McIntyre, an second-year graduate student from Adrian, Mich.
The change also gives the School of Government more clout in competing for grants both within the University and outside, Allred said.
Moeser will formally acknowledge the change on University Day on Oct. 12. A ceremony at the School of Government will likely follow in the spring, Smith said.
Trustee Richard Stevens said the change will help the institute better serve the people of the state.
"This is a significant event, not only for the school, but for the University and the state of North Carolina in terms of the quality of public service provided."
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