Ninety Years of Learning, Serving

PROVO, Utah – Nov 23, 2021 – Throughout his 90 years, Karl Snow has used his experiences to serve the community in many ways: working for the Utah state government, the BYU Marriott School of Business, and South African humanitarian projects.

After receiving his master’s degree in political science from BYU in 1956 and his MPA from the University of Minnesota two years later, Snow spent a summer in Utah working as a part-time research intern for then Utah Governor George Dewey Clyde. Unlike the way many states handled their budgets, Utah’s finances were managed by a board instead of the governor, creating significant frustration for Clyde because he had little control over the state budget. Snow saw this as a problem that should be solved, and this issue later became the basis of his dissertation while earning a PhD at the University of Southern California (USC).

After finishing his doctoral classes and exams, Snow was hired as the Utah State Legislature’s first fiscal analyst in 1966 and began teaching at BYU Marriott. Snow taught at BYU and worked for the state as he finished and submitted his dissertation; he even worked on his dissertation during the summer he spent overseas in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Snow eventually graduated with his PhD from USC in 1970.  During the time he spent as an elected official with the Utah legislature, he used what he learned from his dissertation to change how finances were managed within the state. 

“As a member of the legislature and chairman of the Utah Constitutional Revision Commission, I was able to get a provision added to change the Utah Constitution so that the governor had full control over proposing and executing the budget,” he says.

The changes Snow introduced also decreased the time part-time legislative members have to spend in legislative sessions discussing budget preparation and legislative processes. According to the Utah Senate, Snow’s budget management changes are nationally acclaimed. During his service with the Senate, Snow was even dubbed one of "Ten Outstanding Legislators in America" in 1984 by the National Federation of Federal Employees in Washington, DC. His service in the senate included his involvement as member and chairman for the Utah State Constitutional Revision Commission. Near the beginning of 2020, he was honored by the Utah Senate for his dissertation and work leading the state to better budget management.

Snow was also able to use what he learned at USC and at the legislature to teach his students at BYU Marriott. His experiences helped him better explain concepts, including the concept of compromise. “In public administration, you don’t always get to do things exactly the way you want,” says Snow. “But as you work with others, you’re able to move a program forward. In the case of legislature, you compromise to find legislation everyone agrees to.”

Snow not only served the state but also served people around the world as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After he retired, Snow and his wife, Donna, served three full-time missions as well as helped with a number of humanitarian projects. Following three years representing the Church at the United Nations, they lived in South Africa as directors for humanitarian services for one of their full-time missions. Their responsibilities as humanitarian directors extended to six different countries surrounding South Africa. During this mission, Snow recalls using many of the leadership skills he learned while working for the Utah State Legislature as he communicated with international business and government leaders. 

Now a nonagenarian, Snow has a wealth of experience to draw from. He uses that experience to improve the world in which he lives and serves. Whether solving problems on the state level, teaching university students, or maintaining international relations for the Church, Snow has continued to find ways to connect what he learns with who he serves.

Karl Snow
Karl Snow. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Rebecca Nissen