About Richard Richards

The story of Richard Richards’ political career began in high school and continued on throughout his time at Weber College. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952 and served for almost three years. During a two-month leave, he married Annette Bott in 1954, just before being sent to Japan for 11 months. His service in the army helped prepare him for life and politics. He finished a law degree at the University of Utah, and later became a mainstay in Utah Republican Party politics. His state political prowess only led to national political positions working for Richard Nixon, Bob Dole, Harry Dent and a consultant for Ronald Reagan. Richards became a close friend of Ronald Reagan and was appointed as the Regional Political Director for the Reagan-Bush Campaign. He was instrumental in directing the presidential campaign through 19 western states, helping Ronald Reagan become the 40th president of the United States.

After Reagan’s election to the Presidency, Richard Richards was elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1981. A year later, Richards accompanied President Ronald Reagan to Utah and his visit to Ogden and Hooper. He introduced the President of the United States to 15,000 people from his home state, a treasured moment in his political career. In October 1982, Richards announced he would not seek reelection when his term ended. For the next five years, Richards was a lobbyist. In 1987 he served as an advisor over the western states for George Bush’s presidential campaign. After President Bush’s election, he was considered for Secretary of Interior. It was during this time, after spending 17 years in Washington, D.C., that he and Annette decided to come back home to Ogden, Utah.

After such a successful career in politics, Richards received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree from Weber State University in 2003 and was encouraged by others to document his political experiences. With the help of his wife, friends, and associates, Richard Richards’ life story, Climbing the Political Ladder, One Rung at a Time, was published by Weber State University in 2006.

The Institute for Politics, Decency and Ethical Conduct was established in May 2007 through a generous lead gift from Richard and Annette Richards and many other contributors supporting Richards, Weber State University, and the Institute’s mission. With this support, the Institute was organized and held its first symposium on ethics and politics in December 2007 at Weber State University.

Richards’ own words from his book, Climbing the Political Ladder, One Rung at a Time, best describe his motivation for establishing the Institute for Politics, Decency and Ethical Conduct at Weber State University.

“I want to demonstrate, through my life’s own experiences, that young people with reasonable ability, a strong desire to do well, the patience to build from one strength to the next, and a willingness to work hard can become major players in the political organizations of the United States. It is not easy. It takes commitment and some sacrifice, but it can be done.”

“This book is neither a family history nor a full-fledged memoir. I faced some significant challenges, garnered some valuable rewards – not the least of which was the wonderful people with whom I had an opportunity to work, and got to see from a highly placed vantage point as an insider how a democracy works. At a time when the future of democracy seems precarious, I feel strongly about lifting an affirming voice for its values.”

On April 3, 2009, Weber State University named the Institute for Politics, Decency & Ethical Conduct after Richard Richards in honor and recognition of his outstanding political accomplishments, generous contributions, and energetic commitment to prepare and educate students to become ethical leaders. In 2014, the Richards Institute Advisory Board and Weber State University officially changed the name to the Richard Richards Institute for Ethics to broaden its scope in teaching and inspiring ethical leadership in all areas of discipline.