KNOXVILLE — The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners agreed last month to pledge $10,000 to a University of Tennessee endowment that supports students interested in pursuing careers in local government.
The Paula Muscatello, Bill Rodgers Local Government Internship Endowment assists students studying public administration, finance, communications or other fields that could lead to local government careers.
Earnings from the endowment will fund a summer internship for a graduate student to work on a project that promotes collaboration between city and county governments in Tennessee. Projects initially will focus on opportunities for collaboration in the Upper Cumberland region.
Cumberland County joins Putnam County as one of the first to support the endowment. The Putnam County Commission was the first to commit $10,000 in a vote last fall.
The endowment memorializes Paula Muscatello and her commitment to education and to loving and supporting her family. Muscatello is the late wife of Joe Muscatello, a former consultant for the UT Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS). Joe Muscatello now works for the Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund.
The endowment also memorializes Bill Rodgers and his dedication to improving local government. Rodgers is a former consultant with the UT County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS).
“The purpose of this scholarship is to encourage city and county cooperation,” Muscatello said. “Bill Rodgers and I worked on a number of city/county projects through the years, primarily in the Upper Cumberland Region. I wanted to establish a permanent legacy to Bill’s work and Paula’s support to this important endeavor.
“The support so far has been tremendous,” he said. More than $50,000 has been raised from both public and private sources toward a goal of $200,000.
Ben Rodgers, CTAS finance and budget consultant, said the endowment is a testament to his uncle’s hard work.
“Bill (Rodgers) always put his clients first and believed local government could always be better,” Ben Rodgers said. “He was an inspiration to us all.”
Ben Rodgers now serves most of the counties formerly served by Bill Rodgers.
CTAS and MTAS are two agencies of the statewide UT Institute for Public Service.
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