Kevin J Worthen, J.D. will become the 13th president of Brigham Young University (BYU), replacing Dr. Cecil O. Samuelson, effective 1 May 2014. Worthen is the former dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School and the current advancement vice president of BYU. He will replace Dr. Cecil O. Samuelson, who has served as the 12th president of BYU for the past 11 years.
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made the announcement during a devotional at BYU. “President Samuelson has served this institution with great distinction, and it’s important for the faculty, staff, students and supporters of this university that the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve and Board of Education unanimously recognize the great work and devotion of President Cecil O. Samuelson to BYU,” said President Eyring. “Truly his leadership and influence for good cannot be measured.”
“Brother Worthen is well-qualified for this appointment,” added President Eyring. “On behalf of President Monson and the Board of Education, I know that you join me today in appreciation and love for President and Sister Samuelson. Likewise, we are confident of your continued support for Brother Worthen as he assumes his responsibilities.”
Worthen follows in the steps of other BYU presidents who likewise served as deans at the university before being named as its president, including Jeffrey R. Holland, Rex E. Lee and Merrill J. Bateman.
The search committee, appointed by the university’s board of trustees, considered many outstanding, well-qualified men and women for the position, including internal and external candidates from academe and industry.
“I am both honored and humbled as you might imagine for this opportunity to serve at the university,” said Worthen. “It’s a place I love. I don’t consider myself measuring up to those who preceded me in this, but I take comfort that this decision was made by those who I have great confidence in, and I feel very good about the direction of the university.”
Worthen said President Samuelson helped prepare him for the appointment. “I want to thank President Samuelson both institutionally for creating the kind of environment that exists here in building a foundation with which we can look forward and personally just to thank him as a mentor of mine.”
“BYU is a different kind of place,” said Worthen of the Provo, Utah, campus. “The Board of Trustees really sets the overall vision for the university, so I don’t anticipate any radical changes or new direction. At the same time, I have found that no one has been given this kind of assignment just to maintain the status quo.”
“The other thing you need to know about me is that I love BYU,” stressed Worthen. “I’m a BYU guy through and through. I went here as an undergraduate; I went here to law school. I spent more than half of my life here. That presents wonderful opportunities for me, but it also presents some challenges in terms of making sure that we have people of a little broader perspective involved.”
Worthen also is the Hugh W. Colton Professor of Law at BYU and has particular expertise in federal Indian law. He is a former Fulbright scholar and clerked for Justice Byron R. White of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Malcolm R. Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court. He also has been an associate attorney for Jennings, Strouss & Salmon in Phoenix.
A native of Carbon County, Utah, Worthen earned an associate degree from the College of Eastern Utah, where he was co-captain of the varsity basketball team. While at CEU, he also worked during the summer months as an underground coal miner in the Plateau Mine in Wattis, Utah.
Worthen earned his bachelor's and juris doctor degrees from BYU. He is currently serving as an Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his wife, Peggy Sealey Worthen, have three children and one grandchild.
In 1994, after an impressive career in academe as a professor, dean and university vice president, and as a senior vice president of Intermountain Healthcare, President Samuelson was called to serve as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was granted General Authority emeritus status 1 October 2011. He was a member of the Presidency of the Seventy at the time of his appointment as president of BYU in 2003.
BYU is a private university owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through an appointed board of trustees. With more than 34,000 on-campus students, it is considered the largest religious university and one of the largest private institutions in the United States. The main campus is located in Provo, with satellite campuses in Salt Lake City and Jerusalem. Sister schools are also located in Hawaii and Idaho.