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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Insular Affairs
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The Office of Insular Affairs announces the new Wharton-Island Fellowship Program



For more information contact: Keith Parsky (202) 208-4070/(301) 229-6054

(WASHINGTON, D.C. - May 27, 2003) Graduate students from one of the world's finest business schools will lend their talents to tackling the pressing economic problems of the U.S. territories, the Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs announced today.  The new Wharton-Island Fellowship Program, a collaboration between the Wharton School and the Office of Insular Affairs, kicked off today with the arrival of six interns in Washington, D.C.

"We want to get the best young business minds to address the deep-seated problems of the territories," said David Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Affairs.  "This program offers an opportunity for some of the best and brightest to take a fresh look at problems that many have been struggling with for years."

In June, the interns will fan out for two-week research tours of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The group will reassemble in Washington, D.C. and will present its findings to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton.  The Office of Insular Affairs will use the group's work to prepare for an Investment Development Conference for the territories to be hosted by Secretary Norton this fall.

Cohen stressed that the success of the program will depend upon the ability of the interns to quickly absorb and understand the island cultures.  "How much the students are able to contribute will depend upon how much they are able to absorb," said Cohen.  "This will not be a one-way street, where the students impart Wharton wisdom to the islands.  The idea here is to combine Wharton wisdom and island wisdom in a harmonious fashion, in order to find new approaches that work well within the context of island culture." 

"This is an excellent group of students," said Ramona Jones, Cohen's Special Advisor for Economic Policy.  "Wharton MBA students typically have a great deal of business experience before they get to Wharton.  These students have a wide variety of skills that will be extremely helpful to the islands."

The Wharton-Island Fellows will work with the private sector, local governments and Federal agencies to identify ways to stimulate the economic growth of the islands.  Some examples of potential targeted investment areas are: e-commerce, telecommunications, health care, tourism, solid waste and wastewater treatment, including privatization of government services.