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BYU renames institute to honor George Romney

Published: Wednesday, April 15 1998 12:00 a.m. MDT

The late George W. Romney, three-term governor of Michigan, Cabinet member and tireless advo cate for voluntarism, was remembered Tuesday night as Brigham Young University formally attached his name to its Institute of Public Management.

Romney was posthumously honored at a banquet at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building as a result of a $1 million gift from son Mitt Romney and nearly $500,000 from other Romney family members. The donation, first announced in February, will go toward building a $3 million endowment for the institute, which is part of the Marriott School of Management. The school is housed in the N. Eldon Tanner Building on the BYU campus.BYU President Merrill J. Bateman thanked the Romney family not only for the contributions to the university, but to the country. He hopes the students attending the institute will try to emulate Romney and serve their communities as well as he did.

"George Romney was a leader with energy and he energized the people around him . . . Thanks for letting us wear the George Romney name," Bateman told the family.

Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the LDS Church First Presidency, served on President Ronald Reagan's Task Force for Private Sector Initiatives with Romney. He was a great friend with an amazing "zest for life," Monson said of Romney.

George Romney's wife, Lenore, encouraged students to make sacrifices for their communities. Romney would have expected as much, she said.

Elder David B. Haight, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, praised Romney for the good he did the country and for what he did for the LDS Church.

"There's many things I could tell you about George Romney," Haight said. "He was as good as he was advertised . . . He made a great contribution by bringing the church out of the dark and obscurity."

Haight and Romney grew up together in southeastern Idaho. The men were friends for life, Haight said.

In an earlier interview, Mitt Romney, an official with the investment firm of Bain Capital and former political challenger to Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, said he hopes students in the Romney Institute seek ways to change the "heart of America."

"He (George Romney) was absolutely convinced that government could not solve all of our problems, business couldn't solve all of our problems and ultimately America is great because its people are great and that people serving people was the answer," he said.

J. Bonner Ritchie, a professor of organizational ethics and a close friend of George Romney's, said Romney took a no nonsense approach to business and politics. While governor, he was known to remove the chairs before a staff meeting so no one would visit or chat instead of talking about business.

"He got things done quickly," Ritchie said.

Ritchie was a professor at the University of Michigan during Romney's stint as governor. The two would often spend time together.

"I had a meal in the Romney house prepared by George Romney once," he said. "The food wasn't very good, but it was sure a lot of fun."

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