I received an email and attached press release from a member of the Media Relations Committee of the Council for Mormon Studies at Claremont announcing the official appointment of Richard L. Bushman as the "Howard W. Hunter Visiting Scholar in Mormon Studies." Here is the opening paragraph of the press release:
Claremont Graduate University has appointed distinguished Latter-day Saints scholar Richard Lyman Bushman as the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies in its School of Religion. The announcement was made on Friday, October 19, following final approval of the action by the CGU Board of Trustees. The appointment will begin in fall 2008.
The press release included comments by Bushman and some additional details regarding the appointment:
Dr. Bushman expressed his deep satisfaction at the appointment. “It is an honor to hold a position named after President Hunter, a man whom I greatly admired. Establishing a program in Mormon studies at a university of Claremont’s stature is a thrilling challenge,” he said. “I want to do whatever it takes to get the program going.”
During the academic year 2007-2008, Dr. Bushman will hold a Huntington Library fellowship while residing at nearby Pasadena. His presence in southern California will allow him to begin development of the Claremont program. His wife, Dr. Claudia Lauper Bushman, herself a distinguished scholar in American history at Columbia University, will also teach courses at Claremont as an adjunct professor.
Additional details were also provided about the status of the endowed chair at Claremont:
Dr. Bushman will hold the position of Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor until the endowed chair is fully funded. Fundraising for the chair named after President Hunter is ongoing. “These funds will allow the establishment of the first permanent, graduate-level study of Mormonism at a secular university,” said Joseph Bentley, chair of the Mormon Studies Council at Claremont. He encouraged all advocates of Mormon studies in a university setting and friends of President Hunter to donate to the Howard W. Hunter Foundation.
Congratulations to Dr. Bushman, Dr. Bushman, and Claremont. And we should all give a tip of the hat to the Council for Mormon Studies, whose members have worked for several years now setting up the program with Claremont, soliciting funds to establish the endowed chair, and selecting and recommending candidates for the initial appointment. It is a fine day for Mormon Studies and a fitting celebration of President Hunter, who was a leader of the LDS Church in Southern California for many years before being called to Utah to serve as a General Authority.
Note: There were preliminary announcements of the appointment made last month, so this isn't breaking news, but I'm guessing not everyone caught it the first time around.