Kevin J Worthen
President of Brigham Young University
On January 23, 2015, a final Jeopardy! prompt was “The mission of this Western University founded in 1875 is ‘to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life.’” Anyone who had heard Kevin J. Worthen speak on virtually any occasion in the previous year would have known the answer: Brigham Young University. Worthen, an extremely gifted lawyer, educator, and university president, has often proudly but in his characteristic down-to-earth manner called himself “a BYU guy, through and through.”
Born on April 15, 1956, in Dragerton, Utah, as the youngest of four children, Kevin J Worthen distinguished himself early on for his intelligence and diverse interests. In high school he participated in debate, band, choir, the school newspaper, and sports. He especially loved basketball, which he went on to play as a cocaptain of the varsity team at the College of Eastern Utah (CEU). While at CEU he worked in a coal mine during the summer, learning the value of hard work. He earned his associate’s degree after serving a mission in Monterrey, Mexico, and after meeting his wife-to-be, Peggy Sealey, at a church dance. They were soon married and are the parents of three children and grandparents of several grandchildren.
After graduating from CEU the Worthens headed to BYU. Kevin earned his bachelor’s degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude, and stayed to earn a juris doctor degree at the BYU Law School, graduating first in his class.
After a promising start to a law career, including positions as a clerk for Judge Malcom R. Wilkey on the U.S. Court of Appeals and as a clerk for Associate Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White, Kevin settled into a law firm in Arizona. Three years later he was invited to return to BYU, this time as a member of the faculty. He became distinguished for his contributions to the university and to the field of law as a whole.
Worthen is known for his expertise in Native American law. He studied for a year in South America as a Fulbright scholar, examining cultural and ethnic assimilation of native populations and teaching at the University of Chile Law School. He wrote many articles on Native American law and the rights of indigenous peoples but also showed his variety of interests by writing and publishing law articles about marriage, religion, and even sports. From 2004 to 2008 he was the dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School.
President Worthen’s breadth of skills has served BYU well. After 2008 he served as the University’s advancement vice president, which gave him stewardship over BYU Broadcasting, LDS Philanthropies, alumni relations, University Communications, and athletics. As BYU’s representative to the NCAA and chair of the university’s Athletic Advisory Council, President Worthen oversaw BYU’s move to the West Coast Conference and negotiated television contracts with ESPN.
In 2014 Kevin J Worthen became the university’s 13th president. He was inaugurated on September 9 of that year. As president he has shown his commitment to and confidence in the mission and aims of BYU. Also an Area Seventy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (as well as a former bishop and former stake president), he sees the university as not only a reputable and growing institution of secular learning but also a laboratory for spiritually perfecting experiences. President Worthen continues to shape BYU through his experiences, expertise, and inspiration and faith.