“Jeffrey R. Holland Named New BYU President,” Ensign, July 1980, 75–76
Dr. Jeffrey R. Holland, Church commissioner of education, has been named president of Brigham Young University, succeeding Dr. Dallin H. Oaks, who has served since 1971.
The announcements of Dr. Oaks’s honorable release and of Dr. Holland’s appointment were made in May by President Spencer W. Kimball, who is chairman of the university’s board of trustees.
Dr. Oaks’s administration has upgraded scholarship, expanded campus facilities, and clarified legal decisions relating to private institutions and federal government. Dr. Holland said at a May 9 press conference that while change is inevitable, “we will go cautiously and carefully in building on the immense strength that already exists there in terms of the strong leaders and the committed faculty that make this great university what it is.”
“We will try to continue in the tradition that President Oaks has so beautifully established,” Dr. Holland said. “I am very committed to academic excellence within the context of LDS values and ideals. We will also try to make the best possible case and be the most public voice we can for the rights and the contribution and the place of not only private education per se, but in this case Church-related private education.”
Dr. Oaks has been granted a release with highest commendation for exceptional service. He had confidentially told the Board of Trustees more than two years ago that it would be “in the best interest of the university to have a policy of regular turnover in the office of president.” He recommended an optimum service of six to seven years. President Kimball, announcing Dr. Oaks’s release, explained that the officers and the executive committee of the board of trustees considered it desirable at that time to have President Oaks serve for an additional time.
The board has granted Dr. Oaks a six-month professional-development leave in which he may pursue research and writing in government regulation of private institutions and the laws of church and state. He will continue to serve as a professor of law in BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School.
Dr. Holland commented that succeeding Dr. Oaks “is an honor and a humbling thing. I felt much the same way at being asked to succeed Elder Neal Maxwell in the commissioner’s office.” Dr. Holland, who is 39, has been commissioner of the Church Educational System since April 1976. Before that he was dean of the College of Religion at BYU. As commissioner of education he has directed the worldwide education program of the Church, which involves more than 750,000 students, including those involved in seminaries and institutes of religion.
His undergraduate studies were at Dixie College at St. George, Utah, and at BYU, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1965 with highest honors. He received a master’s degree with distinction from BYU in 1966. He was awarded a Ph.D. in American studies from Yale University in 1973 and was elected a Yale University Fellow. He belongs to Phi Kappa Phi, a scholastic honorary fraternity.
Dr. Holland served as an instructor or director at LDS institutes of religion at Hayward, California; Seattle, Washington; New Haven, Connecticut; and Salt Lake City.
He is on the governing boards of LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City and the Polynesian Cultural Center at Laie, Hawaii. He is on the advisory board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Read-a-Thon Committee and has completed a term as chairman of the Scottsdale Conference on Church-Related Higher Education. He is the Church representative to the National Congress on Church-Related Colleges and Universities. BYU recently awarded him the Distinguished Alumni Service Award.
His Church service has included being a stake high councilor, a bishop, and a counselor in three stake presidencies. He has served as director of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA program of the Church and was chairman of the Church’s Young Adult Committee.
He served a mission in Great Britain from 1960 to 1962. The son of Alice B. Holland and the late Frank D. Holland, Dr. Holland is from St. George, Utah. He and his wife, Patricia Terry Holland, also from St. George, are parents of three children.