SALT LAKE CITY — Jason Perry, Gov. Gary Herbert's chief of staff, is stepping down to become vice president for government relations at the University of Utah.

Perry has worked for Herbert since June 2009, first leading his transition team and then taking the top appointed spot in the governor's office.

"He has been critical to our achievements over the past 18 months, and I am saddened to see him go," Herbert said. "But I know he has help set the stage for future success."

Perry had served as the executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development under Herbert's predecessor, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.

Herbert, who assumed the office when Huntsman resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China, said Perry has been "an invaluable adviser in this and many other areas."

That included Herbert's first legislative session as governor, as well as a hard-fought election this November for the remaining two years of Huntsman's term, Perry said.

He said having worked closely with Herbert since he took office, "I know the governor is perfectly positioned to ensure that Utah remains the most dynamic state in the nation."

U. President Michael Young said the campus "is thrilled to have Jason joining our team, and grateful to Gov. Herbert for supporting his decision to take the next step."

Perry earned a law degree from the U. and has a bachelor's degree in political science from Brigham Young University. He has been an assistant Utah attorney general and a special assistant U.S. attorney.

His resignation announcement comes just days after Herbert's budget director, John Nixon, said he is leaving Utah to take a top job with Michigan's new governor.

Herbert spokeswoman Angie Welling said no other changes are expected in the governor's office.