Thomas E. “Ted” Lyon, a professor of Spanish at Brigham Young University, will be installed as Honorary Consul of Chile in Utah on Wednesday, Aug. 2, at 3:45 p.m. in the Governor’s Boardroom in Salt Lake City.
Fernando Urrutia, Honorary Consul of Chile based in Los Angeles, will conduct the installation ceremony. Gov. Jon Huntsman and other dignitaries will also be attending.
As Honorary Counsel, Lyon, who is the Latin American Studies coordinator at BYU’s David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, will have two major areas of responsibility: to serve the needs of Chileans who are legal residents in Utah and to represent Chile in international trade with Utah.
“Our governor has emphasized trade with both China and Latin America,” said Lyon, who has had a long association with Latin America in general and Chile in particular.
After serving a mission to Argentina for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1959 to 1961, he returned to the University of Utah and took an introduction to Spanish literature course from Ricardo Benavides, a visiting scholar from the University of Chile. That professor and course changed Lyon’s academic interest from biology to Latin American literature, and set his professional path in a new direction.
In 1966, Lyon went to Chile as a Fulbright scholar at the Catholic University of Chile to complete his dissertation on a 1938 group of Chilean writers. He returned to Chile in 1968 for the publication of his book, "Juan Godoy," and again in 1972 when he was invited to speak at a conference.
Chile’s political environment kept Lyon away until 1991, when he helped organize a BYU Study Abroad program there.
A call to serve as president of the Church’s Chile Osorno Mission took Lyon and his wife, Cheryl, back for three years from 1996 to 1999 and, with a second call in 2002, he served two years as president of the Missionary Training Center in Santiago, serving with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church.
A Utah native, Lyon graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Utah in 1963, and he received a Ph.D. in Latin American literature from the University of California-Los Angeles in 1967.
He taught at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Wisconsin,and Glasgow University in Scotland before joining BYU’s faculty in 1972.
As director of International Study Programs’ Study Abroad, he has taken students to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, and Spain. In addition, he has traveled to every Spanish-speaking country in Latin America, and has completed service projects in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.