Ready to Go Out on the Town

Ready to Go Out on the Town

Wade Tosh put his UT education to work before he even finished it. Tosh was chosen as the new town administrator of Dover, Tennessee, by the Dover Board of Mayor and Aldermen in September 2007, 4 months before he finished his Master of Public Administration degree at UT Knoxville. Tosh had a leg up on a local government career thanks to a distinctive new on-the-job experience: he was the first Gary H. Hensley Municipal Managers Intern during the summer of 2007.

Tosh credits the internship as the main reason he was able to make a leap into town management as soon as he did. “I knew I’d be going into local government when I graduated, but never even dreamed I’d have the opportunity to be the town manager somewhere,” Tosh said. “My experience as the Hensley intern was a major factor.”

The Hensley internship, named for former Maryville, Tennessee, city manager Gary Hensley, is a partnership between the city of Maryville and the UT Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) to provide real-world experience for a student interested in a career in local government. MTAS is an agency of the statewide UT Institute for Public Service.

Tosh spent most of last summer shadowing Greg McClain, city manager of Maryville. “Wade went to almost every meeting or function possible,” McClain said. “I wanted to expose him to all sides of city management–some glamorous, some not so glamorous.”

Tosh, himself a Maryville native, said McClain assigned him an annexation project for presentation to the City Council and media representatives. “The presentation went well, and everybody seemed pleased,” Tosh said.

“What was most helpful was getting to cycle through every department and see what it was like to run a medium-sized city like Maryville,” Tosh said. Maryville, 17 miles south of Knoxville, has a population of approximately 26,000.

Tosh, who also earned a bachelor’s degree from UT Knoxville, said he began to consider local government as a career during an orientation session at the beginning of the MPA program. Bob Schwartz, former executive director of UT MTAS, mentioned in the session that the average age of city managers and assistant city managers in Tennessee was mid-to-late 50s. “I knew then that there would be opportunity for me in local government,” Tosh said.

Tosh began applying for positions listed in Tennessee Town and City, a news source for municipal government in Tennessee. After receiving the offer from Dover, he began as assistant town administrator in January 2008. In June he will succeed the current town administrator, Jimmy Scurlock, who plans to retire. Dover, population approximately 1,500, is 27 miles west of Clarksville. “Wade’s experience with the city of Maryville made all the difference in the world,” Scurlock said. “Having known Gary [Hensley] for years, I’m really pleased that we were able to hire the first graduate of the Hens­ley internship.”

The Hensley internship is the first of its kind to support a student interested in a career in local government, Schwartz said. It helps Tennessee cities advance by supplying graduates who are knowledgeable and capable of city administration right away.

Hank Dye, UT vice-president for public and government relations, cites the Hensley internship as a good example of how the university collaborates with local government to educate students and invest in tomorrow. “The university is serious about investing in future leaders and keeping our best students in Tennessee,” Dye said. “We’re glad Tosh is in Dover, Tennessee.”