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Cecil O. Samuelson

Brigham Young University President, 2003-2014

Biographical information

President Samuelson is a Salt Lake City native who has served at the University of Utah as professor of medicine, dean of the School of Medicine and vice president of health sciences. Prior to his call as a full-time General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he was senior vice president of Intermountain Health Care. He holds a bachelor of science degree, a master's degree in educational psychology and a medical degree from the University of Utah. 

Dr. Samuelson fulfilled his residency and held a fellowship in rheumatic and genetic diseases at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. He has received numerous scholastic honors and is the author or co-author of 48 original publications, eight books or chapters of books and 13 abstracts. He also has served as a director, officer or member of several national medical and hospital organizations.

Elder Samuelson was called in 1994 to serve the Church of Jesus Christ as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. On Oct. 1, 2011, he was granted General Authority Emeritus status. At the time of his assignment to BYU, he was a member of the Presidency of the Seventy. He has served the Church of Jesus Christ also as a regional representative, stake president, stake high councilor, branch president and missionary and as an area president in the Utah North Area and the Europe North Area. He and his wife, Sharon Giauque Samuelson, have five children and 14 grandchildren.

Milestones at BYU under President Samuelson

  • In 2005, Tom Holmoe is named the Athletic Director. Bronco Mendenhall is named head football coach, and Dave Rose is named head basketball coach.
  • The Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center is dedicated on June 23, 2007, exactly one year after construction started. The 83,000-square-foot building, paid for entirely by donations, is named after then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley.
  • In 2009, the Academic Vice President’s Office oversees the transition of several academic programs out of the College of Health and Human Performance and into the Marriott School of Management, College of Life Sciences and College of Fine Arts & Communications. The College of Health and Human Performance is dissolved.
  • In September 2010, BYU declares its independence in football. In a press conference with President Samuelson, Tom Holmoe and ESPN VP of programming Dave Brown, BYU announces football will leave the Mountain West Conference and go independent starting in 2011. Meanwhile, most other BYU athletic teams join the West Coast Conference. BYU also announces an 8-year deal with ESPN and a 6-game deal with Notre Dame.
  • In August 2011, BYU holds a joint dedication of the BYU Broadcasting Building and the Information Technology Building. President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ, offers the dedicatory prayer during a service inside the BYU Broadcasting Building.
  • Also in 2011, the university announces the construction of a new 265,000-square-foot Life Sciences Building. The building will be located on the hillside directly south of the Widtsoe Building, which will eventually be razed. The Life Sciences Building will be open for use beginning Fall 2014.
  • Following the October 2012 announcement by Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ, lowering the missionary age for both men and women, President Samuelson leads BYU through decisions in managing enrollment. BYU also enters an agreement with the Church to make available a portion of Wyview student housing to house full-time missionaries, as an extension of the Missionary Training Center.
  • Under President Samuelson’s direction, the housing plan continues on the northeast portion of campus. All of Deseret Towers and 20 of 24 older Heritage Halls buildings have been razed to make way for the new Heritage Housing. As of February 2014, there are eight new Heritage buildings with four more to be completed by August 2015. At that point there will be 12 Heritage buildings.