Howard W. Hunter Chair Available

The opening for the Howard W. Hunter Chair in Mormon Studies at Claremont was posted today at the American Academy of Religion (members only). Sadly, Richard L. Bushman’s temporary appointment soon comes to an end. I don’t know if it is posted at other professional organizations’ job sites, but the posting at the AAR is significant.

Let this be the place for official speculation, insider information, and discussion of the flagship Mormon Studies chair!

39 Replies to “Howard W. Hunter Chair Available”

  1. Alright, more seriously…who would be the contenders?

    I do not see somebody like Givens, because he has a good permanent gig at Richmond.

    I would love to hear ideas about possible Chairs.

  2. The Bushman appointment was on a visiting basis. I could see a Prof. Flake taking the appointment if it was on a more permanent basis. It may have been visiting just because Bushman was not looking for a long-term gig.

    Does this mean that Bushman is available now to be an Apostle.

  3. For those of us who aren’t AAR members, can you post the details of the announcement here? Is this a permanent or a temporary position? What are they looking for?

  4. I wonder if Givens could do it on a visiting basis?

    Maybe Brian Birch or Philip Barlow?

    Kathleen Flake would be amazing.

    D. Michael Quinn apparently was brought up on the last go around…

  5. Here’s the most relevant portion:

    CLAREMONT GRADUATE UNIVERSITY School of Religion seeks an Associate to Full-level Professor in Mormon Studies. The candidate should have competency in American religious history and be able to converse with scholars in as many of the following fields as possible within the School of Religion (e.g., ethics and society, historical studies, women’s studies, history of Christianity, scriptural studies, philosophy of religion, and theology, etc.)

  6. I find it interesting and important that Underwood’s the only trained historian mentioned so far (other than Bushman himself). Sign of things to come, perhaps.

  7. I have serious doubts that Quinn would cut muster these days in academia. He’s been out of the game too long. That’s fine. I’d be content to have him plow away at some topic in the good ol’ New Mormon History.

  8. Smallaxe,

    I could be wrong, but I believe that Flake’s PhD is from the Divinity School at Chicago and not the History department. I do not think this is a big difference, but that may be Matt’s perspective.

  9. Matt’s point, I imagine, is that Flake’s training is interdisciplinary as opposed to strictly historical. From my own perspective, that there are few trained historians being mentioned as potential candidates is indicative of both the nature of the position at CGU and the changing landscape of Mormon Studies.

    If this is a now a tenured gig (which the language in #7 would indicate), then my guess is that this position is Flake’s for the taking. Some names that haven’t been mentioned are Sally Gordon and Laurie Maffly-Kipp, though perhaps with good reason, as both already have stable and secure positions at Penn and UNC, respectively, and both focus much of their research on topics beyond Mormonism.

  10. Re: Underwood. It would seem that if he was seriously interested in this position, he would have (should have?) been more active (presenting, publishing, etc.) these last few years.

  11. Matt’s point, I imagine, is that Flake’s training is interdisciplinary as opposed to strictly historical

    That’s my sense as well; and, as you mention, seems to be what they are looking for per the ad.

    I’m not sure of Christopher’s or matt b.’s take on this, but I would have to say that this is a good thing. Mormon Studies, IMO, is best housed under religious studies where different disciplinary approaches are welcome, if not encouraged.

  12. Christopher,

    I wonder whether a jump from Vanderbilt to CGU would be desirable. for somebody like Flake.

    I think the turn towards religious studies is a good one (assuming there is such a turn). Though, Bushman (a serious Americanist historian) seems to have taken a pretty broad approach. Since a lot of my current projects deal with history of thought, I appreciate the heavy influence of historians on Mormon Studies, but I am still on the interdis. side.

  13. Smallaxe and Chris,

    I think this is very much a good thing. Flake’s interdisciplinary training allows her to, as the job posting requires, “be able to converse with scholars in as many of the following fields as possible within the School of Religion.” But because much of her work has been historical in nature, she will be able to remain conversant and influential within more traditional Mormon historical circles. She really is the ideal candidate.

    Chris H., I imagine the main appeal of CGU is that it is a chaired position and not just a tenure-track/tenured professorship.

  14. I wonder whether a jump from Vanderbilt to CGU would be desirable. for somebody like Flake.

    My guess is the CGU position has several upsides: the ability to teach most of her classes on Mormon related issues, the option to advise grad students in Mormon Studies, potentially more money for conferences etc., perhaps more pay, social cache in certain academic circles, and California living (the last of which some might not think is such an upside).

  15. No, it is a great gig. I think living in Claremont would be a plus. I guess is depends on whether one wants to take such a role in Mormon Studies.

  16. As a student here in Claremont, Givens would be my #1 but it’s true, he has too good of a situation in Virginia, particularly with the University of Virginia soon to launch their own MS chair. Flake would be my second choice. The faculty here already highly respect her and the students that have had contact with her feel the same. The issue with her in 2007 was that they couldn’t offer her a tenured position, which they are now able to do.

    Laurie Maffly-Kipp would be a good addition, but her non-Mormoness (she is not LDS, correct?) would be investigated and weighed thoroughly. The LDS Council on Mormon Studies here is very involved in the selection process and they will want someone, like Bushman, who has both scholarly and faithful Mormon credentials, though they would not be automatically opposed to a non-LDS scholar.

    Scholarly experience in history is still looked at as a primary academic qualification for the chair. Someone with a primarily philosophy or theology background would probably not even be considered. Religious studies is more amorphous and therefore more acceptable, but someone with a degree in or vast experience in history of religion in North America would go to the top of the pile.

  17. Smallaxe – Christopher echoes my own perspective. Flake does history but she’s not trained simply as a historian; religious studies is a self-consciously interdisciplinary field. And that, I think, is a hopeful sign of things to come. It’s not that we should abandon history, but the days in which history is the only way in should be numbered.

  18. Richard’s working on a history of farming in colonial America. I had thought he might stay on with the tenure inclusion, but maybe this means he is leaving. I personally am really excited for the farming book and would be delighted if he were to go full time on the book. I like that Kathleen is able to do creative theology at the same time that she does history, and I think she would be a great candidate for this position. I also had heard that UVa is starting fundraising for an endowed chair in Mormon Studies. I personally am a little mystified why someone would move to SoCal, but that may be my regional bigotry.

  19. Jacob B. and smb,

    As a UVA student (not in religious studies) I’m very intrigued by comments that UVA will soon be launching their own MS chair. Where did you all hear about this? Any details?

  20. UVA has approval to proceed but has not even begun to fundraise, so that chair is nowhere even close to a reality. But the dept. chair is really behind it and I expect it will eventually happy. Now, I wonder who the first holder will be . . .

  21. Do you think Richard Holzapfel would be in consideration for a position like this? He attended BYU, Hebrew Union College, and UC Irvine, receiving his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. respectively, with an emphasis in each of the following areas: Middle Eastern Studies, Jewish History, Ancient History, American History, and Nineteenth Century American Religious History. He would likely appeal to the LDS Council, wouldn’t he?

  22. Biv, Richard has either reported or is just about to report to the MTC to start his 3 year stint as Mission President in Alabama. Just FYI. Robert Millett is taking over for him at the RSC. And according to this there are other changes.

  23. Flake was passed up for the position in favor of Bushman. (I have this on very good authority.) Would she want to risk a surprise like this again?

  24. For the reasons I mention in #20.

    IIRC, the position last time was for 3 years and Flake wasn’t tenured yet, so it wasn’t much of a “surprise”. Now she is tenured and the position seems to be a permanent one. Plus, I imagine, Bushman isn’t reapplying.

  25. I should also add that being “passed up” isn’t always an embarrassment. There’s lost of good scholars, and one being chosen over another isn’t necessarily a black mark on the one not chosen.

  26. There are rumors at Vanderbilt that Flake would jump at the chance if presented. The real question is whether CGU would jump at the chance to get Flake. They should, but you never know.

  27. Flake was not passed up for this position before. She withdrew her name from consideration because she felt it was not adequately funded for her to leave Vanderbilt over as a permanent position change. They then went to Bushman who was interested in doing it as a more short term thing. Now that it is better funded it could be a different story.

    Flake’s PhD is in HIstory of Christianity from Chicago. She also has a masters from Catholic University in religious studies. She has a joint appointment in the graduate department of religion and the divinity school at Vanderbilt, which is the standard combination for PhD faculty there.

  28. 24: He is indeed leaving. He and Claudia will be returning to New York. And he is working toward completion of the farming book, and also has a book on some aspect of Mormon theology in the works.

    25: It’s true that the department chair at UVa is behind a MS chair; he even presented at this last SMPT conference. I’ll venture a prediction right now that Terryl Givens will essentially become the first holder of the chair.

    31: What Wendy (35) said. Flake was not passed on in favor of Bushman. She was actually the faculty’s first pick. Because of the lack of tenure, however, she (wisely) turned the position down. At the time, Richard was the second choice of the faculty (though I’m very happy he was appointed for a number of reasons). Kathleen really wowed them and I’ve little doubt that if she wanted the position this time she would get it.

  29. Just an update to any who do not know, P. Mason and K. Flake are the two finalists for the Claremont job. Mason is doing his on campus interview this week, I believe. I am not sure when Flake’s is/was.

  30. Patrick Mason gave his presentation this past week, and Kathleen Flake will make her case next week. [redacted while search is ongoing]

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