Hinckley Institute embarks on major changes

The chairs, carpet and lectern in OrsonSpencer Hall Room 255 have been exchangedfor dust, concrete and debris.The Hinckley Caucus Room is undergoinga 40th anniversary renovation aimedat improving the technology and aestheticsof a venue that attracts well-knownnational and local political figures.”We want to expand beyond (politicalscience and OSH). We want the whole Uto come to our forums,” said Kirk Jowers,new director of the Hinckley Institute.”If we’re going to bring in a new era, weshould get this done for the start of it-doit once and do it right.”Jayne Nelson, long-time assistant directorin the Hinckley Institute, said theproject is an important first step.”The renovation will bring it into the21st century with modern technology andappearance,” she said.While Hinckley staffers are excitedabout the project, some frequenters ofHinckley events are concerned becausethe Caucus Room is located in an old,non-attractive building on campus andmay not have enough room to support thetypes of speakers it brings in.When U.S. Senate Minority LeaderHarry Reid, D-Nev., spoke in April, morethan 10 spectators were left standing inthe hallway outside the Caucus Room.Jowers said in that instance, Reid hadrequested the intimate setting, but Jowersadded that he would do his best inthe future to predict the level of interestguest speakers would garner and movethem to larger settings such as the Unionor Kingsbury Hall when necessary.President Michael Young said a broaderrenovation of Orson Spencer Hall isa long-term goal of his, but called theHinckley renovation a positive step.”This is a modest but useful renovation,”Young said. “People who come willunderstand what a first-rate enterprisethis is.”Jowers said since the Urecently obtained fundingfor a new library, an OSHrenovation looks to beat least seven to 10 yearsdown the road, which convincedhim to pursue therenovation project nowrather than waiting for anew building.Matt Sanderson, a studentcoordinator, said thedecision should prove tobe a positive move for theinstitute and the university.”The updated technology,new furnishings andexpansion of floor spacereally make the HinckleyCaucus Room a place theuniversity should be proudof to bring in nationallyand locally renowned politiciansin public service,”he said.Jowers referred to a “newera” for the Hinckley Institute,which he said wouldinclude several goals asidefrom the ongoing renovation,which Jowers calleda collaborative effort hepushed with help from AssistantDirector Jayne Nelsonand more recently JimHinckley.In its 40th year at theU, the institute will host aseries of events involvingnational and local figures,as usual, but it will alsokick off a campaign managementminor and beginoffering Hinckley Forumsfor political science credit.Beginning this fall, studentswho sign up for theHinckley Forum coursewill earn school credit bywriting papers on variousspeakers. Jowers saidhe would emphasize moreoutreach to former Hinckleyinterns in order to recruitthem as mentors forcurrent students.In addition, Jowers saidhe would like to enablestudents to come to theCaucus Room to eat lunchwith each other and watchpolitically oriented showssuch as “The Daily Show,”and possibly show politicallybased movies on certainnights.”This should just be afun place to hang out,” Jowerssaid. The institute hasalready begun contactingspeakers for the upcomingyear. Jowers said therewould be several nationallyand locally recognizedspeakers joined by one bigpremiere event this year.”It’s tough to bring apresidential candidate toUtah in an election yearunless this gets to be apresidential challenge likeOhio,” Jowers said. “Sonow (a non-election year)is a great time to bring inpeople like that.”[email protected]