President Kevin J Worthen has announced the appointment of J. Spencer Fluhman as executive director of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.
Professor Fluhman’s selection comes after a national search for the replacement of M. Gerald Bradford, who has served as the executive director of the Institute since 2008 and will be retiring from BYU this year.
The Maxwell Institute pursues and supports the study of religious texts and traditions from the ancient world to the present. The Institute’s work deals with texts important to a variety of faiths and to those who study them.
"Given Dr. Fluhman’s work in deepening the understanding of the faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his ability to promote respect and goodwill among people of all faiths, he is well qualified to lead the Maxwell Institute," said President Worthen. "I express gratitude for the careful work of the search committee, which was comprised of a respected group of colleagues assembled from both inside and outside the university."
The Maxwell Institute oversees the following research initiatives: the Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts, the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies, the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative and the William Gay Research Chair.
An associate professor of history at BYU, Fluhman has been serving as the editor of Mormon Studies Review since 2013. His book, "A Peculiar People": Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America was honored by the Mormon History Association in 2013 with its "Best First Book Award." It was praised in reviews from the American Historical Review to the Journal of Religion to The New Yorker.
Fluhman currently holds the Mollie & Karl Butler Young Scholar Award in Western Studies from the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at BYU. He also serves as the co-chair for the Mormon Studies Group Steering Committee for the American Academy of Religion.
This past year, while serving as a visiting professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University, Fluhman taught courses in American religious liberalism and on LDS history. A popular professor at BYU, he has been honored with teaching awards for his work in the History Department and the American Studies Program.
Fluhman is currently researching and writing a book on the life of Elder James E. Talmage—educator, scientist and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church—which is under contract with Oxford University Press.