Breaking the Ivory Ceiling

As a LDS studying religion, it’s not uncommon to hear the claim that Mormons have a hard time getting hired in religious studies departments; especially if they study Mormonism.

Before 6 or so years ago there were 3 LDSs I am aware of that had a tenured (or tenure track) position in a religious studies (or theology) department:*

Stephen Robinson at Lycoming College from 1979-1986

Philip Barlow at Hanover College from 1990-2007 (now at Utah State)

Kathleen Flake at Vanderbilt

In the past 6 years, however, things have changed. We’ve actually tripled this number.

Beginning in 2007 with Richard Bushman taking the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont (now held by Patrick Mason) several LDSs have been hired in tenure track positions in religious studies departments.

Stephen T has been at Cleavland State University since 2009.**

Cory C started at Ohio University in 2010.

In 2010 Taylor P also started a tenure track position at Kalamazoo College.

And Michael I was hired at Indiana University in 2011.

In addition to these, yesterday Harvard announced the newest hire in the divinity school. David Holland will be an Associate Professor of North American Religious History starting this fall. Holland is a BYU grad (MA and PhD from Stanford), and is the son of Elder Jeffery R. Holland.

I think it’s safe to say that the Ivory Ceiling has been broken. Congratulations to these “pioneers”!


*If I’ve missed anyone, please let me know. There are certainly many others that have participated in religious studies but did not have a tenured (or tenure track) position in a religious studies department.

**I use the first letter of their last names since I know at least one of them might be uncomfortable being associated with our blog.

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