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Paul S. Edwards named new director of BYU’s Wheatley Institution

Replaces founding director Richard Williams, who will be returning to full-time teaching and research in Counseling Psychology and Special Education in the David O. McKay School of Education.

Brigham Young University announced today that Paul S. Edwards will become the new director of BYU’s Wheatley Institution beginning August 2019. Edwards, who currently serves as deputy chief of staff to Utah Governor Gary Herbert, replaces Richard Williams, who has been serving as the director for the past 12 years. Williams will be returning to full-time teaching and research in Counseling Psychology and Special Education in the David O. McKay School of Education.

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“We believe that Paul will successfully lead the Wheatley Institution into its next period of growth and distinction,” said BYU Associate Academic Vice President for Faculty Relations Brad Neiger. “Paul’s broad experience, which combines academic preparation and leadership with intellectual centers, the legal profession, the government sector and the news industry, is quite extraordinary. He is bright, insightful and energetic, as well as being an effective communicator and statesman.”

Named for Jack and Mary Lois Wheatley, the Wheatley Institution enhances and produces consequential scholarship at BYU. The Institution is known for bringing leading scholars and experts together to research and publish on issues impacting people worldwide.

Williams became the inaugural director of the Wheatley Institution in 2007. “He has provided 12 years of visionary service,” Neiger said. “His intelligence and leadership have guided Wheatley through its developmental stages to a state of national prominence. Throughout this time, Richard has remained faithful to the institute’s founding principles while overseeing many successful initiatives related to strengthening families, civic virtue, applied ethics and faith and intellect. He has left an indelible mark.”

Edwards explained that Williams’ “profound appreciation for the ethical foundations of our social institutions has provided a sure compass for the future of the Wheatley Institution.”

He added that he appreciates “the confidence and kindness of the generous financial supporters of the institution and is eager to meet and learn from them. I am especially looking forward to working with the fellows and scholars who have affiliated with the Wheatley Institution as we explore together how to discover and share constructive solutions to today's social challenges.”

As deputy chief of staff in the Utah Office of the Governor, Edwards has overseen strategic communications and policy planning. His office wrestled with an array of complex policy issues from air pollution to tax reform to suicide prevention. In 2018, he was awarded the Governor’s Award for Excellence.

Before joining the governor’s staff, Edwards was the editor and publisher of the Deseret News. The Salt Lake City newspaper has praised Edwards for extending the reach of the newspaper “far beyond Utah, growing readership and building comprehensive coverage not just in traditional news beats, but also expertly on matters related to faith and family.”

Prior to joining the Deseret News, Edwards served as executive vice president and provost at Southern Virginia University, as the president of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and as vice president for academic affairs at the Institute for Humane Studies.

Edwards holds a doctorate in jurisprudence and social policy and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He graduated with university honors from BYU, where he previously taught political science.

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