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Character

Cougar Query: "Rethinking keeps me alive to the world around me"

Name: Spencer Fluhman
BYU employee since: 2004

My job at BYU is… Executive Director of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.

Currently I’m working on… a biography of Elder James E. Talmage. He's an unavoidably significant figure in our religious past, but he's woefully understudied. I can't wait for Latter-day Saints to know him better.

I’m currently reading… Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind by Mark A. Noll. I love seeing how scholars from various faith traditions navigate intellectual and religious life.

I get most excited about my work when… I have to rethink everything. That rush that comes with new knowledge keeps me reading, thinking and asking questions. It keeps me alive to the world around me.

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Great BYU professors …sparked my interest in my field. I knew I wanted to teach when I arrived on campus, but it was the remarkable faculty that drew me to U.S. history, American religion and Latter-day Saint history. Those great undergraduate teachers continue to inspire my best work as a professor.

Students don’t think I notice… when they're bored. They're almost always polite, but I can see the glaze descending on their eyes, the phone glances, etc. When boredom strikes, I know it's time to write a new lecture or rethink a discussion or a reading. If history isn't absolutely riveting to them, it's my fault or theirs, not history's. Our topics are endlessly fascinating, naturally, so if students are bored, it's time to go back to the drawing board.

When I have 30 minutes of free time, you can find me… running. I don't love it, mind you, but I just keep going. I have found that if one runs just fast enough to get beyond those crushing feelings of inadequacy, it's a tolerable hobby.

My go-to BYU Creamery ice cream flavor is… yes. All of them. (See below.)

On Saturday mornings you’ll find me… running. (See above.)

My go-to comfort food is… grilled meat. And ice cream. And pie. And Indian food. And tacos. And cheese, either on stuff or by itself, especially if it's fancy. And fancy bread, come to think of it. Did I mention BBQ? (Also, see "running" above.)

The title of my autobiography would be… If I Amounted to Anything, It's Because I Loved Her.

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