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The state Board of Regents now includes a retired LDS general authority who is credited with opening up church history.
The Utah Senate on Wednesday confirmed Marlin Jensen, an Ogden lawyer who was recently replaced as official historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Gov. Gary Herbert crossed party lines to nominate the Democrat on Aug. 3 to the board that oversees the state's eight-campus system of public colleges and universities.
Jensen, 70, succeeds Meghan Holbrook, one of three Regents to step down this summer. Herbert last week appointed Zions Bancorporation CEO Harris Simmons to succeed David Jordan and will soon name a replacement for Katharine Garff. Holbrook recently completed a second four-year term, while Jordan and Garff left to serve the LDS Church.
Garff's departure leaves two women among the board's 15 voting nonstudent members.
Jensen has served on the church's Quorum of Seventy since 1989 and is expected to be accorded emeritus status as a general authority in October. As church historian since 2005, Jensen has been credited with transforming the faith's approach to its history. He put thousands of its documents online, oversaw the Joseph Smith Papers Project, reorganized the staff and moved the church historic archive into a new state-of-the-art building.
He also pushed for an honest telling of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the 1857 siege in which Arkansas immigrants died at the hands of Mormon settlers.
Jensen, the father of eight college-educated children, was chairman of the Weber board of education in the 1980s. He told senators at his confirmation hearing that he was pleased to join the Regents, although his experience with higher education policy is limited.
"I come with no preconceived notions but with a great willingness to learn and be of service," said Jensen, who graduated from Brigham Young University and earned his law degree at the University of Utah.
New commissioner for Utah higher education
Exercising new authority over higher education, the Utah Senate on Wednesday confirmed David Buhler as commissioner of higher education.