Leavitt to Talk International Relations, Healthcare in Lecture at SUU

Published: March 05, 2009 | Read Time: 3 minutes

Southern Utah University is proud to announce Michael O. Leavitt, former secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and governor of Utah, will present as the inaugural speaker in the University’s new annual lecture series, the Howard R. Driggs Memorial Lecture. 

The event, which is open to the campus and statewide communities, will be held in the SUU Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11, 2009. Leavitt will present a discussion on the strategizing of healthcare as an important factor for international relations, entitled, “Health Diplomacy: From the American People.” 

Leavitt’s speech comes from a series of writings he composed as his post as secretary of HHS came to a close. According to Leavitt, this compilation of speeches, The Prologue Series, provides insights from his national and international experiences into what looms on the United States’ horizon. 

Within his “Health Diplomacy” speech to be presented next Wednesday at SUU, Leavitt states, “Health is a legitimizer of governments and ideologies. It also legitimizes terrorists, revolutionaries and dictators.” The former secretary of HHS asserts that the United States needs “to benefit more from our quietly abundant benevolence.” 

The lecture will also be available to the public on a live webcast Wednesday evening, at www.suu.edu/sutv/webcast.html. 

Michael Leavitt is a native of Cedar City and an alumnus of SUU. He was governor of Utah from 1993 through 2003, when he was appointed director of the Environmental Protection Agency by President Bush during his final term as governor. He was sworn in as the 20th secretary of Health and Human Services in January 2005. Leavitt recently returned to Utah at the end of the Bush administration. 

The selection of Leavitt as the inaugural Driggs Lecture speaker is fitting, considering both he and Driggs were allies to U.S. presidents and both helped champion the American West. 

Howard R. Driggs was SUU’s first English faculty member in 1897 when it was named the Branch Normal School, and he went on to become a professor at New York University and president of the American Pioneer Trails Association. Born in Pleasant Grove, Utah, he maintained his love of the West and worked to preserve and share its history until his death in 1963. He was author of over 50 books and many articles on the history of America and the men and women who pioneered the American West. 

During Leavitt’s governorship, the 2002 Olympics brought the world’s attention to the state. During his eleven years of service, Utah was recognized six times as one of America's best managed states. He was chosen by his peers as chairman of the National Governors Association, Western Governors Association and Republican Governors Association. 

The Michael O. Leavitt Center for Public Service is located in Special Collections at Southern Utah University’s Sherratt Library and the Michael O. Leavitt Online Archive is hosted on the Library website, where his state papers, photographs and other electronic resources are searchable and viewable through a single Web portal. 

In 2004, the papers, manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia from Driggs’ long career became the Howard R. Driggs Collection at the Sherratt Library, and in 2007 the Howard R. Driggs Room was opened in the Special Collections area. The new lecture series is designed to promote and encourage ongoing research, discussion and analysis of the collection and related Western history topics. 

Additional information on the Howard R. Driggs Memorial Lecture can be gathered by contacting SUU’s Special Collections at 435-586-7945.

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