What Drives Us

Robert H. Hinckley founded the Hinckley Institute of Politics in 1965 with the vision to, “teach students respect for practical politics and the principle of citizen involvement in government.” Since that time, the Hinckley Institute has provided a wide range of impactful programs for students, community leaders, and the general public.

The Hinckley Institute is dedicated to engaging students in transformative experiences and providing political thought leadership. 

Message from the Director: Jason P. Perry, JD

Jason P. Perry  Director, Hinckley Institute of Politics

Jason P. Perry

Director, Hinckley Institute of Politics


The best part of my job as Director of the Hinckley Institute is working with the students. I am amazed by their ambition, desire for knowledge, and willingness to work. They know the life changing experiences they have during their internships will enhance their education and increase their ability to compete in the job market.

We know this because each year we ask Hinckley students what they have learned. This response from Ben Berger, a recent graduate who is bound for medical school, represents a common theme:

“The highlight of my Hinckley Internship experience was meeting with and learning from innumerable people of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, agendas, desires, and positions. The contextual and experiential learning was truly exceptional, and could not have been gained anywhere else.”

Ben’s experience is a testament to Robert H. Hinckley’s prescient vision when he stated that we should “teach students respect for practical politics and the principle of citizen involvement in government.”

The Hinckley family’s continued support, along with the university, donors, alumni, and community partners, has allowed us to change the lives of more than 7,500 students over the course of 52 years.

In the last year alone we hosted more than 100 public forums, placed over 330 interns, inducted former Senator Bob Bennett into the Hinckley Hall of Fame, hosted numerous debates, and held an election night watch party as part of our “Informed Decisions” initiative with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. On top of all these great experiences, I am tremendously proud to report we helped students access more than $430,000 in scholarship funding. Keeping internship experiences affordable is vital and cost should not keep students from these opportunities.

For me, helping to enhance a student’s world view is the most important and transformative work we can do.

That accomplishment is well expressed by one of our students, Mary Elizabeth Stoddard, who said:

"I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment I felt after completing my internship experiences. They enhanced my resume and gave me real world skills that I know will be applicable throughout my professional career.”

Mary Elizabeth’s experience typifies the central role of the Hinckley Insitute. We take students and provide them with life-changing learning opportunities. We expose them to the people, organizations, and thinking that will equip them for success in their careers and satisfaction in life.

Moving forward, we will continue to champion President Pershing’s vision to maintain the Hinckley Institute as the state’s premier political and internship institution, providing signature learning experiences to University of Utah students. In doing this, we will carry out Robert H. Hinckley’s call for civic engagement by increasing opportunities for students across campus. We will secure more internships and secure world-class forum speakers. We will develop résumés and enhance perspectives. We will prepare students to compete and contribute in a global marketplace.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as this institute’s director. For me, it’s more than a job; it’s part of who I am. If you haven’t had a chance to interact with the Hinckley, or if it’s been a while, please come by. We are located in the Gardner Commons building, room 2018. We would love to hear from you.

Jason P.  Perry

Director, Hinckley Institute of Politics

Vice President of Government Relations, University of Utah