Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service

Project Prologue

Developing a Utah Statehood Centennial Ambassador Visits Program

Developing a Utah Statehood Centennial Ambassador Visits Program with a Limited Budget


Like many state initiatives, a charge or mandate is often accompanied by a limited budget. In order to develop the ambassador portion of the centennial celebration, a committee was selected, and Sterling Provost, who had been Associate Commissioner of Higher Education of the State of Utah, was asked to chair the committee.  There was a large advisory committee and a smaller operating committee. All members of the committee were volunteers.  The committee met once a week in the GOED conference room.  The first challenge was determining how to run the program without a budget—air transportation, hotel lodging, meals, and ground transportation.

Steve Studdert and Sterling Provost met with Fred Rollins, the District Manager of Delta Air Lines.  Studdert asked Rollins if Delta Air Lines would provide first class airfare for the ambassadors.  Rollins said that since it was a centennial statehood celebration, he would provide 100 airline tickets.

The next concern was lodging. Studdert approached Ken Knight, who was one of Sinclair’s top executives and responsible for the Little America Hotel.  Knight said he would provide lodging for the ambassadors in the Little America Hotel without a charge. In addition, Knight said that if the presidential suite wasn’t being used that night, the ambassador would be put in the suite.

The next objective was to determine program content and meals.  Studdert and Provost approached the business community and asked if they would host luncheons and dinners.  The business community responded affirmatively.  In addition, colleges and universities were asked to host speaking engagements and luncheons for the ambassadors. The colleges and universities were happy to accommodate.  Since Brigham Young University’s performing arts had traveled into many of the ambassador’s countries, BYU was very visible and was an obvious choice.  Also, the University of Utah is the flagship university in the state and the ambassadors asked to speak there.  Weber State University, Utah State University, Westminister College, Dixie College, and Salt Lake Community College also participated in hosting ambassadors.

The forth consideration was ground transportation. From the state’s point of view, the committee was looking at economic trading partners. Because the program had potential to bring foreign business and investment to Utah, Governor Leavitt was gracious enough to offer the Governor’s Protective Services for driving the ambassadors.  Shane Terry of the Highway Patrol was enlisted and the ground transportation problem evaporated.

Initially, Studdert discussed with Governor Leavitt the possibility of inviting all of the ambassadors stationed in Washington D.C. to Utah.   However, there were 180 ambassadors and only 100 available airline tickets.  Committee member Dr. Erland Peterson suggested focusing on the countries that had the greatest potential to do business or provide some meaningful partnership with the state.  Peterson also wanted to leave a lasting impression with the ambassadors.  He wanted the trip to be more than just another business trip. Peterson suggested that instead of inviting 100 ambassadors to come to Utah, the committee could look at 50 ambassadors and have them bring their spouses.  Peterson believed that if it was a shared experience between the couples, they would talk about the trip and they would remember it.  GOED produced a list ranking the top 50 countries that were doing business with Utah.  It was from that list the countries were selected and invitations were extended to the ambassadors.

The last component was having the ambassadors meet with the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The First Presidency agreed to meet with the ambassadors during their visit to Utah.

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Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service