USU seeks scholar for LDS-studies post
By Carrie A. Moore
Deseret Morning News
CASPER, Wyo. =97 Utah State University has formally announced its
search for a scholar to fill its new Leonard Arrington Chair in Mormon
History and Culture, as part of establishing the first religious
studies program at a state-sponsored university in the Beehive State.
"We want to make this appointment before the holidays and have
this person join the faculty in fall 2007," said Dean Gary Kiger of
the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at USU. He made
the announcement during the opening session of the Mormon History
Association conference Friday.
The school has been working to organize formal religious studies
research for some time, and the Arrington Chair will be the second
position at a secular university dedicated to the emerging field of
Claremont Graduate University in California recently announced
its search and fund-raising for a Mormon studies chair named after
late LDS Church President Howard W. Hunter. The USU post is named
after deceased LDS Church historian Leonard Arrington, whose work has
become the basis for much of the scholarship that has since been
produced regarding early LDS history.
Kiger also announced the selection of Charles Prebish, a
specialist in Buddhist studies from Pennsylvania State University, to
fill an endowed chair in religious studies at USU. Prebish has held
visiting professorships at Naropa Institute and the University of
Calgary, and spent a year as Rockefeller Fellow at the Centre for the
Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. He is co-founder of
the online Journal of Buddhist Ethics.
The religious studies push at USU is already attracting research
files from other high-profile scholars who work in Mormon studies.
Kiger said the school will soon receive the papers of the late Valeen
Tippetts Avery, retired professor of history at Northern Arizona
University in Flagstaff. Avery, who died in April at age 69,
specialized in American Southwest and Mormon history. She co-authored
"Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith," with Linda King Newell, in 1984, and
in 1998, authored "From Mission to Madness. The Last Son of the Mormon
Prophet."Both books were formally honored by USU.
Kiger said the school is also slated at some point to receive
the papers of Jan Shipps, a professor emeritus of religious studies,
history and philanthropic studies at Indiana University, Purdue, Ind.
University. Shipps is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable
scholars of Mormon studies who is not a Latter-day Saint.