USU names finalists to head up Mormon studies program

The finalists for Leonard J. Arrington Chair in Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University are Patrick Mason, Sara Patterson and John Turner.

Utah State University has announced three finalists — two men and one woman — to become the new Arrington Chair of Mormon Studies.

They are:

Patrick Mason, the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University in Southern California.

Sara Patterson, associate professor of theological studies at Hanover College in Indiana, whose forthcoming book “Pioneers in the Attic: Place and Memory Along the Mormon Trail” is being published by Oxford University Press.

John Turner, associate professor of religious studies at George Mason University in Virginia and author of the award-winning biography “Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet” as well as “The Mormon Jesus: A Biography.”

USU’s endowed chair, dedicated to the academic study of the history and culture of Mormonism, was the “first such chair in the world,” according to a news release from the Logan school’s religious studies program.

Starting in 2007, it was held by Mormon historian Philip Barlow, who is retiring at year’s end to join Brigham Young University’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.

USU had “a very strong pool of candidates,” said professor Ravi M. Gupta, director of the religious studies program in the school’s history department. “All three candidates are internationally reputed scholars of Mormonism, with different areas of emphasis in the field.”

Each candidate will visit campus over a three-week period beginning in late October.