Why a Baskerville Institute in Utah
Baskerville Institute is part of a long history of exchanges between Utah and Iran dating back to 1912 when John Widtsoe (1872-1952) then president of Utah State University, met a young Iranian diplomat, Mirza Ali Gholi Khan, Consul General for the Shah of Persia [Iran] in an irrigation conference in Canada. A noted scientist, author and academic.
Widtsoe built on his friendship with Gholi Khan, exchanging information on irrigation methods, Utah’s ecology and how similar it is to Iran. Gholi Khan wrote to Widtsoe, shared information about Iran, Persian culture and poetry, its topography and similarity to Utah. Widtsoe invited the Iranian Consul General to Utah State University in 1915 to deliver the graduation address. In 1922, the first Iranian student came to Utah State University.
Since this historical friendship that started in 1912 thousands Iranians have received their education from Utah State University, Brigham Young University, and University of Utah. Hundreds of American professors, peace corps volunteers, and aid workers from Utah have traveled and lived in Iran. Many are still resident in Utah and their presence provides a rich environment for enhancing and building on a century of civil society interaction with Iran.