Historian Patrick Mason, a Utah native, is the new Leonard J. Arrington Endowed Chair of Mormon History and Culture, coming to USU from California’s Claremont Graduate University.
He said the new assignment includes teaching a range of courses including Mormon History and the History of Christianity.
“But then also a significant part of this, and one of the main purposes of most endowed chairs, is to facilitate research,” said Mason. “So my position is structured in such a way that I should have ample time to get into the archives and do lots of research and writing.”
Mason said Dr. Arrington mentored a new generation of scholars.
“It is true that even while Elder (Howard W.) Hunter, who later became President Hunter, believed that the church could withstand open inquiry and scrutiny and that the sources and archives should be opened, and he charged Leonard Arrington with doing that, there were other senior church leaders who disagreed. They felt that the church did not have a responsibility to tell all of its history.
“I think these were sincere intentions, in terms of trying to protect the faithful and not provide possible ‘ammunition for the opposition’. So there was an honest disagreement in terms of how transparent and how open the church should be.
“For a time those more conservative voices won out and Leonard Arrington and some of his colleagues were transferred down to BYU, out of the church historian’s office.”