Jason Perry is the new director of the U’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.
Perry has served as the U’s Vice President of Government Relations since 2011 and has a long history in politics.
A selection committee, including U President David Pershing and the institute’s board chairman Jim Hinckley, announced the decision on Jan. 15. The previous director, Kirk Jowers, resigned in June 2015 to pursue business interests, and Perry has since served as interim president.
“This really is a place where students learn firsthand how the political process works,” Perry said. “My plans for the future are to keep working on that great mission, but to enhance the opportunities and expand.”
The Hinckley Institute was established in 1965 to promote political and civic involvement. It offers students opportunities to learn at lectures or through internships.
Perry will continue as Vice President of Government Relations while serving as director. His duties involve working with the state legislature on behalf of the U. He secures funding and works on bills that affect the university. Perry also interacts with Congress to get federal funding for research.
Perry is also a professor at the U’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, teaching second- and third-year law students the role of ethics and politics in creating a bill, as well as how lobbyists and special interests affect the process. In his classes, students have the opportunity to draft their own bills.
Before coming to the U, Perry worked as chief of staff for Governor Gary Herbert, and he helped with Herbert’s 2010 election campaign.
“I was with Governor Herbert for about two years, which is a pretty good lifespan for a chief of staff,” Perry said. “When … President Young approached me about taking over this role, it was a very easy decision for me because I believe in the mission so much.”
Jayne Nelson, associate director, has worked at the Institute since 1988. Nelson organizes institute forums and encourages students to be politically active.
“Our founder, Robert H. Hinckley, said that our young, best minds must be encouraged to enter politics,” Nelson said. “Politics is going to affect your life. We want students to be engaged and know what’s happening.”
The institute held 116 forums in 2015, with a range of speakers from local politicians to international ambassadors. Previous guests from years past include Bill Clinton, Mitt Romney and John McCain. The institute also offers a variety of internships locally, in Washington D.C. and in 58 countries across the world. Information and upcoming events can be found at www.hinckley.utah.edu.