UVU gets anonymous gift to open constitutional studies center

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 20 2011 3:19 p.m. MDT

OREM — Thanks to a sizable donation from two mystery business leaders, Utah Valley University will be opening the first center for constitutional studies in the Intermountain West.

UVU's new Center for Constitutional Studies will join similar constitutional centers at Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard and Yale, to offer a multidisciplinary constitutional degree program. This is possible through a $1 million combined gift recently given to UVU by two anonymous donors.

"This is a tremendous gift, one of the largest we have received to advance a specific field of academic study," said UVU President Matthew Holland, who added that constitutional studies will be important as the country and world continues to grapple with political and economic challenges.

The center will help form guest lectures, academic conferences and coordinate internships. The center will also provide students with a minor degree in European and Colonial foundations of American constitutionalism, the founding of America, constitution government and design, and constitutional liberties and rights.

UVU spokesman Mike Rigert said the center is being funded for the next five years through the anonymous donation. Rigert said the two business figures requested that no information about them be released, including whether or not they are from Utah County.

Rick Griffin, associate professor of history and political science, has been selected as the center's new director. Griffin said the center will benefit students and the public by providing access to regional, national and internationally-recognized scholars.

Vice president of academic affairs, Ian Wilson, said the university is currently working on finding a long-term physical location for the center that would include rooms and offices. University leaders also said they plan to seek further private funding and national grants to ensure the center will continue through 2016.

E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com

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