The Mormon Studies Council and Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University promote a robust and scholarly understanding of Mormon culture and religion through free and open dialogue, original scholarship, graduate education, and public outreach.
The Mormon Studies Council works closely with the Religion Department and School of Arts and Humanities to advance Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University. The Council seeks to foster interest in the study of the traditions descended from Joseph Smith in an academic context in which many religious traditions are studied alongside one another.
In partnership with the Mormon Studies Council, the Religion Department has established continuing relationships with the LDS community in our area. The Council advises the department on the needs and interests of the LDS community, consults with the department on the development of the Mormon Studies program, and works with it to sponsor lectures and conferences. The Council also directs fundraising efforts to support Mormon Studies at the university. The Council established the Howard W. Hunter Foundation to raise $5 million to endow a permanent Mormon Studies program at CGU. The first stage of that effort was achieved in April 2008, with the endowment of the Howard W. Hunter Chair in Mormon Studies. The first occupant of the chair was Dr. Richard L. Bushman and its current occupant is Dr. Patrick Q. Mason.
The Council actively seeks donations to support Dr. Mason and the activities of Claremont Mormon Studies. This includes providing financial support for lectures and conferences and for fellowships to current and incoming students in order to attract the best and brightest to Claremont.
The Mormon Studies Council is comprised of local LDS church leaders, academics and interested lay members. It meets regularly with university administrators including the Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. The roots of Mormon Studies at Claremont date back to 2002. Now, after more than a decade of dedicated effort from Dr. Bushman and Dr. Mason, the Mormon Studies Council and the Hunter Foundation, the framework has been established for a vital Mormon Studies program at Claremont. This historic effort has also provided the template for developing Mormon Studies programs at other leading universities in the United States and beyond.
Current Council Members
Robert H. Briggs holds degrees from Brigham Young University and Pepperdine University School of Law. His professional work has been as an attorney in private practice in southern California for thirty-five years. He has published on the history of territorial Utah in various publications. Since 2004, he has observed the growth of Mormon Studies at CGU and strongly supports its continued expansion. He and his wife, Linda, make Fullerton their home and they have four grown children.
Robert D. Crockett is a trial lawyer with the firm of Crockett & Associates, specializing in environmental and land use litigation. Bob graduated from the J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1982 and became a partner at Latham & Watkins, leaving in 2015 to form his own firm. He has published on topics relating to legal aspects of the Mountain Meadows Massacre and professional topics. Bob and his wife Debora Townsend are the parents of eleven children.
Blaine H. Evanson
Blaine H. Evanson is a partner at the international law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 2003 and from Columbia Law School in 2006, and after law school served as a judicial clerk for Judge A. Raymond Randolph on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Blaine’s law practice is focused on appellate litigation; he has handled several dozen appeals in federal and state courts across the country, including in the Supreme Court of the United States. Blaine also serves on the board of directors of the Orange County Legal Aid Society and the J. Reuben Clark Society, and has taught courses on constitutional law and appellate advocacy at the University of Southern California and Loyola Law Schools. Blaine served as a missionary in the Germany Frankfurt Mission of the LDS church, and has served in a variety of church callings, including as bishop of the South Pasadena Ward in Southern California. He and his wife, Robin, are the parents of four children.
John Forester has deep roots in Claremont and the Pomona Valley. A lifelong resident who can remember way back to when lemon groves outnumbered residential tracts, he attended Brigham Young University after graduating from Claremont High School. Returning after college, he raised his family of four children in his hometown. John has run small businesses here and been deeply involved in church and community sponsored volunteer work benefiting local youth, the elderly, schools, and various under-served members of the community.
Lynn Forester has been living and serving in Claremont her entire adult life. After ushering her own four children through its public schools, she has spent the past two decades working with the students of Claremont High School in the office of student government and activities. Her efforts were honored when the Claremont Unified School District named Lynn their Employee of the Year in 2014. She has served two terms as a Human Services Commissioner for the city, and continues to be deeply involved with local youth through her work at the high school and through her church.
Christie and Russ Frandsen
Russ was born and raised in the farming community of Centerfield, Utah, after which he attended Brigham Young University and served a mission for the Church in North Germany. Just before graduating from BYU, he met and married Christie Hansen, and then moved to North Carolina to attend Duke Law School. After law school, Russ and Christie moved to the Los Angeles area where they have lived ever since, raising their 11 children in La Canada. Russ practices business law as a solo practitioner in Pasadena and is an avid soccer fan.Christie was born in Havre, Montana and raised on Indian reservations in Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, and Arizona where her father was a range conservationist in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She attended BYU, majoring in ancient scriptures. She is the mother of 11 children, and has taught early morning seminary and Institute classes at USC and Occidental College for 16 years. She has also been an active volunteer leader in Girls Scouts for 35 years. She and Russ have 18 beautiful and precocious grandchildren.
Patrick Mason became Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University in 2011. He is an American religious historian and scholar of Mormon Studies who earned his PhD in U.S. history from the University of Notre Dame. He also earned an MA in international peace studies at Notre Dame, with an emphasis in religion, violence, and peacebuilding. Prior to that he had graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in history. In addition to leading the Mormon Studies program at Claremont, Professor Mason serves as chair of the Religion Department and anchors the department’s major in Religions of North America. Prior to joining the faculty at CGU, Mason taught U.S. history, politics, and religion at the American University in Cairo before returning to Notre Dame to help launch an interdisciplinary research project on modern Catholicism, Islam, and secularism called “Contending Modernities.” Read more about Patrick here.
Armand Mauss, Council Member Emeritus
Armand L. Mauss (PhD, UC-Berkeley) retired as Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Religious Studies at Washington State University and moved to Irvine, CA. He was invited to join the CGU Council on Mormon Studies in 2004, while the Council was still raising the funds to endow the Hunter Chair, and he taught the first and only courses in Mormon Studies at CGU until the Chair was endowed and eventually filled in 2008 by Professor Richard L. Bushman. He is the author or co-author of several books on Mormon topics, the best known of which are “The Angel and the Beehive: The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation (University of Illinois Press, 1994)”; “All Abraham’s Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage (University of Illinois Press, 2003)”; and “Shifting Borders and a Tattered Passport: Intellectual Journeys of a Mormon Academic (University of Utah Press, 2012).”
Morgan McKeown is a graduate of Dartmouth College and USC Marshall Business school, and currently works for a global medical device company. His international positions have taken him to many parts of the world, including three years living abroad in Singapore while managing an Asia Pacific division of his company. He has dabbled in Mormon studies as a hobby for many years, and has enjoyed being a part of the efforts at Claremont since 2014. His other hobbies include songwriting, playing the guitar (both real guitar and air guitar), traveling, wrestling with his children, and snowboarding. He has held various responsibilities within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints such as missionary (in Buenos Aires, Argentina), primary teacher, Elders Quorum president, Gospel Doctrine teacher, and Ward Mission Leader. He currently serves as the First Counselor in the Bishopric in his ward in Irvine, California.
Mike is a founding partner of Milam, Knecht & Warner, LLP, a full service CPA and consulting firm. Mike earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in taxation and accounting from Brigham Young University. His background as a certified public accountant includes 25+ years of experience with income, estate, trust and gift taxation and assisting business owners in all phases of growing their business.Mike speaks nationally on tax planning techniques and the tax planning process. In addition, Mike testifies as an expert witness in the Los Angeles Superior Court system on income, estate and trust taxation, accounting and finance.When Mike is not working hard for his clients, he enjoys being with his wife, five children (and their spouses) and three young grandchildren. He loves traveling, hiking and fishing. He is actively involved in The Beeve Foundation for World Health and the Boy Scouts of America. Mike is currently serving as a High Priest Quorum teacher, a stake employment specialist and stake auditor. Mike served a mission in the Colombia Bogota Mission.
Craig, an entrepreneur, has owned and operated a chain of southern California LDSbookstores, Ensign Books, for 3 decades and has several real estate holdings. He published the Latter-day Trumpet, a California LDS monthly newspaper, for six years. His wife, Beverly, was honored as the California Mother of the Year in 2012. Together they have 8 children and 25 grandchildren. Craig has served as bishop, stake mission president, gospel doctrine instructor and is currently on the executive council of the Inland Public Affairs Council. He served a mission to Italy. He is a graduate of the University of Utah and has an MBA from Cal Poly Pomona. Upon graduating from high school Craig pedaled a bicycle across the United States and after a year at college awaiting a mission call he pedaled around the perimeter of the United States. During his military career he served as an officer and wore a green beret. He is the recipient of the annual Distinguished Service Award from the Pomona Jaycees. For ten consecutive years he reigned as the watermelon-eating champion of Rancho Cucamonga.
Kenn Rasmussen grew up in bountiful Utah. After serving a mission in British Columbia and Alaska, he moved to Southern California. The plan was to complete his education and move back to Utah, but he fell in love with Southern California and Sandee Sonnors of Fullerton. They have happily built a life together in the sunshine and smog. Kenn received a degree in philosophy from Cal State Fullerton and spent his professional career in marketing and licensed sports sales. He has a lifelong passion for comparative religion and religious studies. His most recent church callings have included sixteen years in Public Affairs and three years as the LDS pastor at the Chino Prison for Men. Kenn and Sandee have been married for 43 years and have four wonderful children and eight magnificent grandchildren.
Rick Richmond is an attorney with strong ties to the community and a deep commitment to his faith and his family. He manages the Los Angeles office of the international law firm Jenner & Block, which he co-founded in 2009. The firm has been selected multiple times as one of the 20 elite national firms on the American Lawyer’s “A-List” and has been recognized as the #1 law firm nationwide by the American Lawyer for pro bono efforts in five of the last eight years. Rick has been recognized by the Daily Journal as a “Top 100 Lawyer” in California, has been listed as a Southern California Super Lawyer every year since 2005, and is a recipient of the Outstanding Lawyer Award by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society’s Los Angeles Chapter. Prior to Jenner & Block, Mr. Richmond was an associate and partner at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis for 20 years, served on the Appellate Staff of the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and was a law clerk to Judge Harlington Wood Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Mr. Richmond is an honors graduate of the law school at George Washington University and a cum laude graduate of Brigham Young University. In the community, Rick has served and continues to serve in a variety of capacities: Chair, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation; Chair, J. Reuben Clark Law Society (Los Angeles chapter); Chair, Los Angeles Eagle Scout Association; President, George Washington Law Alumni Association; Secretary, California Club; Director, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce; Director, Los Angeles Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America; Advisory Committee Member, Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence; Advisory Board Member, George Washington University Law School; and Advisory Committee Member, The Federalist Society (Los Angeles chapter). Mr. Richmond has been married to the former Linda Ann DeGraw since 1982. They are the parents of three children.
Amanda Haslam Wirtz was most recently an engagement manager with Cicero Group, a Salt Lake City-based consulting firm. In this role she contributed to the day-to-day analytics, research and data collection on projects with non-profit organizations, schools, system levels, and institutions of higher education. Her work with institutions of higher education includes growth strategy, systemic improvement, and competitive advantages.
Prior to joining Cicero Group, Amanda worked in higher education at the University of Redlands, first as the director of admissions for the School of Education, followed by her role as regional director of enrollment and operations for the School of Education and the School of Business. As regional director, she led a team of eight regional campus directors who functioned independently as branch campuses with multiple programmatic offerings. In addition, Amanda served as an assistant director of recruitment for the Claremont Colleges, where she was responsible for the recruitment and marketing strategy of the Keck Graduate Institute. She created a strategy for two international markets in India and China to grow their international student representation for graduate programs.
She also worked in for-profit education at Kaplan Inc., developing national curriculum in reading, math and writing for K-8th graders based on common national standards as the national director of academics. She has co-authored a Kaplan textbook on instructing writing for third- to eighth-graders. In addition to her curriculum development, she was responsible for training the instructors on best practices in pedagogy.
Former Council Members
Joseph and Marilyn Bentley
Joseph and Marilyn Bentley are residents of Orange County and were the earliest prime movers for the Mormon Studies program at CGU. Joe is a retired partner at the international law firm of Latham & Watkins. He served as an LDS Stake President in the Newport Beach Stake and thereafter as a Regional Representative for the LDS Church. Currently, the Bentleys serve as the President and Matron of the Newport Beach Temple.
Jonathan Beutler is a Los Angeles-based public affairs professional. Having lived in Europe, South America, and East Asia, he previously worked as an American diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, most recently serving at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. Jonathan is active in politics, having worked on numerous campaigns and currently serving as an elected delegate to the California Democratic Party. Jonathan serves on the boards of directors of several chambers of commerce in Southern California, and sits on Chapman University’s international advisory board. Passionate about foreign policy and international affairs, Jonathan is a Fellow with the Washington-based Truman Security Project and is an active member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, as well as the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles, and the Japan America Society. Jonathan is an alumnus of both UCLA and BYU. (Twitter: @jbeutler)
For over 25 years, Steve Bradford has been counseling with public companies as well as closely-held and family-owned businesses, helping them develop plans and make decisions about acquisitions and sales; growth and expansion; financing; restructuring; business relationships and personnel; and dispute resolution without litigation.Mr. Bradford has co-authored several chapters of U.S.A. Business: The Portable Encyclopedia for Doing Business with the United States, and Mexico Business: The Portable Encyclopedia for Doing Business with Mexico. Mr. Bradford has lived in California, Utah and Virginia, as well as Mexico and Spain, traveled extensively in the Americas and Europe, and speaks both English and Spanish.Mr. Bradford is a member of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, and the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. From 2007 to 2009, he served as Chairman of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society’s Los Angeles Chapter.Mr. Bradford is a member of the Board of Visitors at Claremont Graduate University’s School of Arts & Humanities, Chairman of Claremont Graduate University’s Mormon Studies Council, and Vice Chairman of the Howard W. Hunter Foundation that supports Claremont Graduate University’s Mormon Studies program.
Mr. Bradford and his wife have been married for 25 years and they have three children. Two of their children graduated from public high schools in Pasadena, California and are currently students at the University of California, Berkeley, while their youngest currently attends a Pasadena public high school.
Mr. Galorath has been involved with engineering, estimating and analysis for 40 years. Under his leadership Galorath Incorporated developed SEER cost, schedule, risk applications, methods, and training for 1) software, 2) hardware, electronics & systems, 3) Information Technology, and 4) Manufacturing. Dan is the primary author of the book “Software Sizing, Estimation, and Risk Management: When Performance Is Measured Performance Improves.” His widely read blog, Dan Galorath on estimating, covers estimation, planning, measurement, control and risk analysis. He has received lifetime achievement awards from the major industry associations covering his contributions to the state of the art of estimation, planning and project control. He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and has served in numerous responsibilities including Bishop, High Councilor, stake welfare specialist, and addiction specialist.