$1 million gift to help support student internships

Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Ellen Piazza

The College of Fine Arts recently added $1 million to an internship scholarship fund dedicated to helping its students transition from college into the professional world.

Dean Doug Dempster has observed that “recent research on college-to-career pathways proves what we’ve long believed intuitively about how young artists, performers and designers transition into their professional lives. Internships and other first professional experiences are crucial to students making a promising start on their careers or getting left behind. That goes double for first-generation college students and the less affluent students who may be graduating with substantial education debt. They often find it difficult to afford low or unpaid internship experiences that can, nonetheless, launch their careers.”

This latest $1 million donation will be added to the Meredith and Cornelia Long Internship Fund, a scholarship endowment that helps Fine Arts students afford to accept low-paid or unpaid internship opportunities anywhere in the country by underwriting travel and living expenses. 

“I rarely sit down with my friend Meredith Long that he doesn’t remind me of all that he got out of his education at the University of Texas,” said Dempster. “He’s a tireless advocate for what a public education can do for a student’s professional prospects in life, and he and his wife Cornelia have given back generously to help the next generation.”

Building better career pathways for College of Fine Arts students remains a top fundraising priority for the college.  The dean has announced the goal of placing 100 percent of the college’s graduates into first jobs, professional internships or graduate and professional study.

The Longs first established the Internship Fund in 2015 at the request of the dean. The new program was almost immediately successful with many students applying for funding. The program is managed by the Career Services office in the College of Fine Arts.

“We are happy to help,” said Mrs. Long.  “It’s important for the students to gain professional experience through internships, and we know that not all can afford to do so on their own.”

In addition to the Longs’ endowment gift, the college has raised $100,000 from various donors for a separate College of Fine Arts Internship Endowment Fund and established internship support as part of the Allen J. Becker Endowment for Arts and Entertainment Business.  

Photo: Ellen Piazza, who majored in violin performance in the Butler School of Music, received a Meredith and Cornelia Long Internship Scholarship that enabled her to intern at Austin City Limits Live at Moody Theater during her senior year of college.