Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is changing the focus of his annual fundraising gala this year, pivoting away from campaigns and candidates to instead benefit the launch of a planned public policy center in his name at Utah Valley University.
An invitation to the black-tie affair, to be held on Nov. 1 at the Salt Palace Convention Center, tells guests to make their checks out to the Gary and Jeanette Herbert Foundation, with proceeds going toward the Herbert Center for Public Policy at UVU.
Table reservations — for a group of 8 — begin at $5,000, with the cost of individual tickets starting at more than $600. The Governor’s Office on Tuesday confirmed that discussions with UVU are ongoing, and that more information on the policy center will be released in November.
“Part of its mission will be on providing student internships as well as promoting greater study and understanding of key public policy issues, including promoting the free enterprise system," Herbert’s office said of the center plans.
Herbert, who first became governor in 2009, has stated that he does not intend to seek re-election next year and has donated to the gubernatorial campaign of his lieutenant governor, Spencer Cox.
He previously served as a commissioner of Utah County, where UVU is located.
University spokesman Scott Trotter also confirmed that discussions are ongoing with Herbert but largely declined to elaborate on the specific plans or structure for the proposed center.
“If approved, the center will house the governor’s papers and promote student and community engagement in the political and public policy-making processes," Trotter said.
The Herbert Center would join several other academic institutions named for former Utah elected leaders. Weber State University hosts the Walker Institute, named for former Gov. Olene Walker; Southern Utah University hosts the Leavitt Center, for former Gov. Michael Leavitt; and the University of Utah hosts an Institute of Finance named for U.S. Senator Jake Garn and the school’s Hinckley Institute of Politics has a scholarship named for former Gov. Scott Matheson.
The U. is also partnered with the Hatch Center, a think tank and library housing the archives and a replica office of former Sen. Orrin Hatch, to be built on South Temple in Salt Lake City.