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Posted: 9:30 AM- LDS scholar Richard Lyman Bushman has been named the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies in Claremont Graduate University's School of Religion, a position that will enable him to start a Mormon studies program at the California school.

The appointment will begin in fall 2008.

"We consider him to be the single most widely known and highly regarded historian of Mormonism," Karen Torjesen, dean of the Claremont School of Religion, said in a statement. "We are committed to studying the full breadth of religious experience. With his broad background in American cultural and religious history, Professor Bushman will make a vitally important contribution to our mission."

The professorship is named after the 14th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Bushman, emeritus from the Gouverneur Morris Chair of American History at Columbia University, is the author of 12 books, most recently Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. In addition to his career at Columbia, he has taught at Boston University, Harvard, Brown, the University of Delaware and Brigham Young University. He said in a statement that he is honored to take the new position. "Establishing a program in Mormon studies at a university of Claremont's stature is a thrilling challenge," he said. "I want to do whatever it takes to get the program going."

During the academic year 2007-2008, Bushman will hold a Huntington Library fellowship while living in Pasadena. His presence in southern California will allow him to begin development of the Claremont program. His wife, Claudia Lauper Bushman, herself a distinguished scholar in American history at Columbia University, also will teach courses at Claremont as an adjunct professor.