The prominent sociologist Armand Mauss passed away on August 1, 2020. We remember him fondly. He was an inspiration and guide for the establishment of the Howard W. Hunter Chair in Mormon Studies. Armand served as a founding member of the Mormon Studies Council at CGU and taught in CGU’s Mormon Studies program. Below are tributes from colleagues, friends, and students.
Howard W. Hunter Chair in Mormon Studies, Claremont Graduate University
I first encountered Armand Mauss’s The Angel and the Beehive in the early years of my graduate school training: I was hunting for some material on contemporary Mormon worship practices, and I found that in his book. But I found a lot more than that as well. Mauss’s book has now for twenty-five years been the best comprehensive work on twentieth century Mormon history we have. It managed to both be among the first thorough works on the topic, but also to set the parameters and narrative arc that have structured nearly all work on twentieth century Mormon history since. Mauss’s model of assimilation and retrenchment (and his follow-up works that have extended his interpretation to the periods after the timeframe of the book ends) have proven durable and persuasive to historians working on a wide range of topics. The book has become a firm canopy that has proven able to shelter and anchor a range of research.
I’m convinced the book will remain part of the Mormon studies canon even as the work which follows it transcends it. In part, of course, Mauss pointed the way there himself, with his followup All Abraham’s Children, a study of race and Mormonism which illustrated how many stories beyond the white, male, Utah centers of Mormon power remain to be told. More, we have begun to see Mormon studies branch beyond the historians who have embraced it so far; more and more scholars of multiple disciplines have begun taking the tradition seriously—and as that has happened, the shelves in the BX8600 section of the library have begun to fill with books both building on and dissenting from The Angel and the Beehive—though all still owe it a debt.
After I finished my graduate training I got to know Armand personally, and discovered that his rigor, generosity, and imagination characterized him as a mentor, friend, and guide. When I took the Hunter Chair, Armand became one of those figures I consulted with regularly for counsel and encouragement. He will be missed.
R. Randall Huff
Past Chairman of the Mormon Studies Council and the Howard W. Hunter Foundation
Armand was perhaps the most proactive member of our Mormon Studies Council. He was also an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduation University, and was very knowledgeable about issues surrounding blacks and the Priesthood. But Armand’s influence extended well beyond that. He was one of the most proactive on our Council on many different topics. He constantly raised questions about what we were doing to make sure we were doing our best. He was particularly fond of and protective of our students. He always tried to get us to be more supportive of students and their economic challenges. He was heavily involved in fund-raising, and contributed far more than most of us given the differences in our incomes. He was a watchdog of our finances, and routinely questioned how we dealt with our funds, both from a treasury and a banking standpoint. I don’t know if there was anyone who loved and supported the Mormon Studies program at CGU more than Armand. He will be sorely missed by so many, but his profound influence will live on.
Author of The Next Mormons
Since I was trained as a historian and not a social scientist, it was with some trepidation that I told Armand years ago that I was thinking about diving into a large-scale research project about contemporary young Mormons. What became The Next Mormons was possible in no small part because of Armand’s willing assistance with many aspects of the project, as he offered feedback on early drafts of survey questions, donated to the Kickstarter campaign that funded the national survey, and read and commented on two chapters in progress. That same generosity of spirit was also apparent when we served together on the Dialogue board. Armand was by that time in his late seventies and early eighties. Plenty of other people look at retirement as a time to enjoy a long-earned respite from work, and a chance to indulge personal interests. (Believe me, I’m not judging.) This was not Armand’s approach. He devoted himself to the journal and the people associated with it. I count myself as tremendously lucky that our years on the board overlapped. I will miss his keen intellect, vibrant sense of humor, and equally vibrant Hawaiian shirts. God be with him till we meet again.
Christie Frandsen and Amanda Haslam Wirtz
Chairs, Mormon Studies Council
The Mormon Studies Council of Claremont Graduate University joins with the rest of the LDS scholarly community in mourning the passing of our beloved Armand Mauss, the “founding father” of the Mormon Studies program at CGU. He was a giant among LDS scholars and leaves a legacy of ground-breaking and standard-setting work that might never be matched. He was a visionary who saw the powerful good that could come from establishing collegial and personal relationships between LDS scholars and scholars in the broader academy. It was this vision of his that gave birth to the Howard W. Hunter Foundation and Chair of Mormon Studies at CGU, and it was his indefatigable support that has kept it alive and growing. His energetic, always optimistic, sometimes reproving voice will be profoundly missed but never forgotten at our Council meetings. He was never fond of words of praise, and so we leave him with what he would far rather receive as a tribute at his death: our resolute pledge to continue the great work to which he devoted the last years of his extraordinary life.
Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon Culture, Utah State University
Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies, Claremont Graduate University, 2011-2019
The academic field of Mormon studies lost one of its greatest pioneers and champions when Armand Lind Mauss passed away. In a field created and dominated over the past half century by American historians, Mauss was Mormon studies’ preeminent social scientist. He authored a number of influential studies late in his career that transformed the way we think about Mormonism, the Mormon people, and—somewhat ironically—Mormonism’s historical development. He was an energetic and generous supporter of some of the key institutions that provide the intellectual and organizational scaffolding for the field. He was a devoted scholar, teacher, friend, mentor, father, and husband, and will be greatly missed.
Having retired to Orange County, he was in the right place at the right time when Claremont Graduate University began considering the possibility of creating an endowed professorship in Mormon studies. Mauss taught the first Mormon studies courses at CGU from 2005-2008, energetically served on the Mormon Studies Council for several years, and was an indispensable part of the establishment and success of the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies.
Those who care both about Mormonism and the life of the mind stand on the shoulders of a generation of giants (some of whom, fortunately, are still with us). In Armand Mauss’s passing, we lose one of these giants, one whose exterior was stern and exacting but whose heart more than filled his large frame. Those of us who knew Armand personally will never forget him, and all of us are in his debt. How will we repay the debt? I think I know what Armand would say: read, think, write, and live honestly. After all, what good is any other way?
Professor of Economics & Religious Studies, University of California, Irvine
To the world, Armand is one of the great figures of Mormon Studies and its preeminent social scientist. To me, Armand was a mentor and, more importantly, a dear friend. He happily let me join his class on the social science of Mormonism back in the early days of the CGU Mormon Studies program, and I learned just as much during our conversations while we carpooled each week from Irvine to Claremont as I did in the class. My own foray into Mormon Studies grew out of discussions we had about the social science of religion and the differences between his field of sociology and my field of economics. He was kind enough to read drafts of my work and offer his typical incisive but constructive criticism, and he later recruited me to serve with him on the Dialogue Board of Directors. But nothing is more memorable than the time my wife Caroline and I spent with him and his wife Ruth getting lunch at Mimi’s Cafe or in our home discussing all things Mormon Studies and culture. He loved to share stories about the field’s early days and always bemoaned with a smile the fact that the younger generation so often had to sort out their own understanding of issues confronted by others decades before. I count myself lucky that his retirement to Irvine coincided with my getting hired at UC Irvine. I count myself even luckier that I was able to spend so much time in his company. I am saddened by the news of his death but glad to celebrate his life and memory.
Professor Emerita of American Studies, Columbia University
Farewell, Armand, my beloved fellow California Mormon. How I will miss you, your keen insights, your straight talk, your unceasing Labors toward good ends. All best to you and Ruth.
Professor Emeritus, Columbia University
Inaugural Holder of the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies
I have said that Armand Mauss was the premier theorist of Mormonism in our generation. His conception of the internal dynamics of the Church’s social development was really unmatched. He was a great mind and a great soul. Who was more generous with his time and attention than Armand? I loved him.
Chair of the CGU Mormon Studies Council, 2005-2010
I have always regarded Armand as an indispensable cog in that program. While I was pleased to invite Richard Bushman to apply for the Howard W. Hunter professorship, then oversaw much of the program’s development during its formative years, it was Armand who really put the rubber on the road.
I think he was the first ever to teach any courses in Mormon Studies at CGU. He started as an adjunct professor soon after I brought him onto the MS Council in 2004 and he taught for the next four years until the Bushmans arrived in 2008. His credibility with other faculty members enabled his appointment as a most effective member of the search committee, where he guided the selection of Richard Bushman as a senior professor. He was instrumental in creating the highly active Claremont Mormon Studies Student Association, then continued as our liaison with it and with the School of Religion for about a decade.
In the latter capacity, he helped to administer the combined operating budget under the 2006 endowment agreement between CGU and the Hunter Foundation. That was especially crucial during CGU’s financial meltdown during the national financial crisis, beginning in late 2008 while I was out of the country. Even with his limited retirement resources, he annually donated all that he could afford to the CGU Hunter endowment, setting a superb example.
In his own humble but scholarly way, Armand was faithful and true and loyal to God, to gospel principles and to sound academics. In short, he was our “man for all seasons,” and “for all reasons,” at CGU. I loved the man and always will. I shall miss him, as will all who served with him until he retired from that service to care for his beloved wife Ruth. My desire is to be reunited with both of them in a higher realm some day!
Chairman of the Howard W. Hunter Foundation
Armand was a towering figure in Mormon Studies. He was not only a pioneer in the field, but a humble, dedicated, and persistent pursuer of truth and supporter of the Mormon Studies program at the Claremont Graduate University. I was privileged to serve with Armand on the Mormon Studies Council and will be forever grateful for that opportunity. He will be missed but never forgotten.
First Chairman of the Howard W. Hunter Foundation
Armand was a gentle giant in so many different arenas. He was constantly incisive and keenly thoughtful as the Mormon Studies program was proposed, researched, and finally came to successful fruition at Claremont. He was a constant source of common sense and reasoning. He is surely along with his eternal sweetheart never to be forgotten. Armand, we will see you soon.