Brigham Young University President Kevin J Worthen, following approval from the BYU Board of Trustees, has announced that Carl Hernandez III will become the university’s first vice president for belonging effective this June.
Hernandez, who served on BYU’s Committee on Race, Equity and Belonging (CoREB) and is now a law professor at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, will lead BYU’s new Office of Belonging. The office will focus on helping BYU to achieve a community of belonging described in the university’s newly created statement on belonging.
“We are excited to move forward with these plans,” Worthen said. “Carl has the experience, wisdom and compassion to lead our effort to create a community composed of students, faculty and staff whose hearts are knit together in love.”
President Worthen has said that the office will not only be core to BYU’s efforts to root out racism but also to help combat “prejudice of any kind,” including that “based on race, ethnicity, nationality, tribe, gender, age, disability, socioeconomic status, religious belief and sexual orientation.”
The Office of Student Success and Inclusion will become part of the Office of Belonging. Multicultural Student Services and International Student and Scholar Services will remain in Student Life, working closely with Hernandez and his staff.
The Office of Belonging will be located in the Wilkinson Student Center. More information on the physical location is referenced below.
Hernandez will guide BYU’s efforts address to the recommendations provided by CoREB and to otherwise address the needs of all marginalized individuals on campus. After months of study, the committee provided the university with a 62-page report and recommendations to help the university better understand and improve the experiences of all students and employees.
“Coming from a family of migrant farm workers,” Worthen said, “where he learned many lessons laboring with his parents and grandparents in the fields of California, Hernandez personally understands what it means to feel like an outsider. As one who has extensive experience serving and working with and for non-profit organizations and state and local governments, he also understands how to build bridges to unify diverse communities, so all feel included.”
Hernandez credits a visit to his family by two missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with changing his life at 14. He went on to receive bachelor’s and master’s degrees and then a Juris Doctor from BYU.
He served as an assistant dean at the BYU law school for more than 10 years. He has taught civil rights, community lawyering, fundamental lawyering skills and clinical practice courses for legislation, criminal prosecution and defense, immigration, government practice and nonprofit practice.
He was the 2019 recipient of the BYU Karl G. Maeser Professional Faculty Excellence Award and the J. Reuben Clark Professor of the Year Award in 2018.
Partnering with the Church of Jesus Christ, Hernandez founded the BYU Community Legal Clinic, which provides pro bono legal services to immigrants, refugees and other marginalized communities, and he has served as its director since 2017.
The Office of Belonging will be located in the Wilkinson Student Center, which necessitates the movement of other offices. Here is a breakdown of where each affected group will be located:
- Office of Belonging
- Will be located on the second floor where the Office of Student Success and Inclusion (OSSI) currently stands
- Will be expanded to include the space around the corner from OSSI to include the area where Careers & Experiential Learning is now
- Careers & Experiential Learning
- Will move to the first floor of the WSC where The Wall restaurant used to be
- Multicultural Student Services and International Student and Scholar Services
- Will move to the second floor of the WSC to be co-located with the Office of Belonging