Former Utah Governor and U.S. Ambassador to China and Singapore Jon Huntsman will visit the Augustana campus this November. The 2012 Republican Presidential candidate is the featured speaker at this year’s Boe Forum on Public Affairs.
With China still a looming presence on the United States’ political horizon, Huntsman’s speech will further outline the “Geopolitics of China and the U.S.,” drawing from his longstanding diplomatic relationship with the country’s culture and sociopolitical development.
“We have to find people who are expert in their field, have an international presence, and a willingness and availability to speak. When we looked at the names, Jon Huntsman was at the top of the list,” Center for Western Studies executive director Harry Thompson said.
A relevant topic is the first criterion for choosing the Boe Forum speaker, and this year, the selection committee settled upon China, which Thompson characterized as “economically joined at the hip” with the United States. This also proved to be a clear determining factor as Huntsman speaks fluent Mandarin. The committee—composed of Center for Western Studies staff members and Augustana faculty, alumni, and students—also took into consideration Hutsman’s ability and effort to bridge present Democrat-Republican divisions in Washington D.C.
“He is a very well-versed, articulate and thinking individual, and he has made efforts to bring people together of multiple persuasions,” Thompson said.
Reaction to Huntsman’s selection amongst students and faculty has been positive, with the Augustana Republicans being especially vocal in their support.
“I immediately spread the news via the Augie College Republican twitter page. The governor is a great choice for this year’s Forum and I am excited at the prospect to hear him share his views,” Senior and Augustana Republicans president Jesse Fonkert said.
Others specifically cite Huntsman’s unique personal and professional ties to China as a testament to his viability as a speaker.
“He is in the unique position to not only be able to speak about political policy, but also about the people—having once lived and worked in the nation. Huntsman will likely provide insight into what he sees as the future of the relationship between China and the United States and Augustana’s students need to hear what he will have to say,” Augustana history professor Margaret Preston said.