Kathleen Flake Photo by Dan Addison

Kathleen Flake has been named the inaugural Richard Lyman Bushman Chair of Mormon Studies in the Department of Religious Studies, making UVA the first major public university to establish a Mormon studies chair.

Flake, previously a professor at Vanderbilt, researches religion in 19th- and 20th-century North America, and has a forthcoming book on early Mormonism’s plural marriages.

“Mormonism’s … ideological roots, as well as the more human question of why so many were convinced of its claims, are part of a well-kept public record,” Flake says. “[This] makes Mormonism an extraordinarily rich and complex example of religious formation.” 

Mormonism is America’s fourth-largest religious denomination. Its growth and political influence in this country has helped establish Mormon studies as an emerging academic field.