Claremont scholar Patrick Mason eager to head up USU’s Mormon studies program and write a ‘bunch of books’

(Matt Cashore | University of Notre Dame) Patrick Mason

Patrick Mason, head of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University, is trading his post in balmy Southern California for the snowy climes of northern Utah.

Mason was named Friday as the new Leonard J. Arrington Endowed Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University.

The Arrington Chair, the first such Mormon studies professorial chair in the world, is housed in USU’s religious studies program within the history department.

“It’s kind of exciting to think about teaching and researching Mormon history at a state institution with thousands of [Latter-day Saint] undergraduates,” said Mason, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “after teaching at a very expensive private school with a handful of graduate students.”

At Claremont, where Mason has been for the past eight years, he also served as dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, which included a great deal of administrative work.

The new job will give him more time for “research and writing,” Mason said in an interview, finally getting to a “bunch of books rattling around in my head.”

The historian already has published a number of books and articles on Latter-day Saint culture and American religious history, as well as religion’s role in conflict and peace building. Among his most recent works is “What Is Mormonism? A Student’s Introduction.”

Mason will “build upon the terrific legacy of Phil Barlow, the first Arrington Chair,” Joseph Ward, dean of USU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said in a news release.

He will “continue to engage not only scholars,” Ward added, “but members of the wider community, in understanding the significance of Mormon history and culture.”

Barlow is leaving to join Brigham Young University’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.

Mason, a Sandy native, earned a bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University and a doctorate at the University of Notre Dame. He will begin his USU tenure in July 2019.