Influential Senator Bennett Speaks at Driggs Lecture

Published: March 21, 2014 | Read Time: 2 minutes

Southern Utah University is proud to announce Robert F. Bennett, former United State Senator, as this year’s Howard R. Driggs Memorial Lecture as part of the annual Founders Celebration on Tuesday, March 25.

While in office, Bennett was an ardent advocate for protecting public lands by bringing extremely disparate groups together to inform legislature, at the state and national level, of conservation issues.

His most influential bill passed was the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act of 2008, which designated 256,000 acres of land as wilderness.

The keystone for Bennett’s presence on campus was the research completed by SUU alumna, Amy McIff, who recently graduated from the University’s master’s of public administration program. McIff’s graduate thesis centered on the Washington Conservation Act that Bennett sponsored.

“Since the bills passage in 2009 it has been referenced numerous times in congressional hearings concerning public lands designations, specifically concerning wilderness,” stated McIff. “Lawmakers have recognized that there is a better way to make public lands designations through collaborative efforts and have looked to the Washington County process as a model.”

First elected to the United States Senate in 1992, Bennett was then reelected in 1998 and 2004. Serving on several key committees and acted as the Deputy Republican Whip. Following his exit from the Senate in 2004, Bennett joined the law firm Arent Fox as senior policy advisor and also became the chairman of the Bennett Group.

During his address, titled “Conflict Resolution and the New American West,” Bennett will reflect on his experiences as a U.S. Senator in confronting and resolving major issues of the American West that it faces today including development, mineral extraction, water rights and drought, and, of course, public lands.

The Howard W. Driggs Memorial Lecture focuses on the American West in homage to Dr. Howard W. Driggs, one of the SUU’s first professors who endeavored to preserve the trails and memories of America’s pioneers and Pony Express messengers in the West.

Keeping with tradition, this year’s Driggs lecture is one of many events surrounding the University’s Founders’ Celebration, which will run from March 24-28. This Driggs Lecture is an integral part of SUU's Convocation, the University's distinguished lecture series.

Principal funding is provided by Camille Bradford, Esq., SUU Convocations, and the Howard R. Driggs Memorial Lecture Fund.  Additional funding provided by Allen and Kathleen Christensen.

The lecture, which will be held in the Great Hall at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, is free and open to the SUU community and the general public. 

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