President Cecil O. Samuelson has served as president of BYU for nearly 11 years — the fourth longest tenure in BYU presidential history. As students and faculty prepare to bid farewell to President Samuelson, we take a look back and what led him to BYU in the first place.
Aug. 1, 1941: Born in Salt Lake City
President Samuelson is known for his love of reading. At a BYU Annual University Conference on Aug. 26, 2003, he said this:
“I was not an early reader. My mother, who had been a first-grade teacher, encouraged me all that she could, but for some reason I was not interested. A defining moment transpired at the beginning of the third grade. Mrs. Brown, our teacher, evaluated our entering reading competence and determined that I was more suited to take the B, or easier, version of the Weekly Reader. This was based on her evaluation of my poor reading skills.
“I was shocked, my mother embarrassed, and together we agreed to change things in short order — which we did. My fifth-grade teacher could not understand my mother’s elation when it was reported at parent-teacher conference that I had developed the ‘terrible habit’ of always having a book open in my lap even when the class was supposed to be working on something else. I have never gotten over my love of reading or my appreciation for Mrs. Brown.”
1960-62: Served mission to Scotland
Nov. 25, 1964: Married Sharon Giauque in the Salt Lake Temple
In a January 2013 devotional address, President Samuelson humorously referred to his and Sister Samuelson as an “arranged marriage.” The two met at the University of Utah, where Sister Samuelson worked as a secretary in the office where President Samuelson’s father, Dr. Cecil O. Samuelson Sr., worked. Sister Samuelson had heard about President Samuelson before he returned from his mission, and, upon his return, she hoped to get to know him better.
“I hoped his dad was giving him encouragement to ask me out on a date,” Sister Samuelson said during a devotional address. “I regret to say that it did not occur as quickly as I desired. Nevertheless, I broke off a relationship with another fellow and waited patiently. It is obvious from the fact that we are standing here together that with a little time and encouragement from his dad, we dated and eventually married — one parent-arranged marriage that was successful.”
The Samuelsons now have five children and 14 grandchildren.
1966: Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in molecular and genetic biology from the University of Utah
1970: Graduates with both a medical degree and a master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Utah
1970-73: Completes residency and fellowship in rheumatic and genetic diseases at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
1973-90: Professor of Medicine at the University of Utah
1985-88: Serves as Dean of University of Utah’s School of Medicine
1988-90: Vice President of Health Services at the University of Utah
1990-93: Serves as Senior Vice President of Intermountain Health Care
1993-1997: President of Intermountain Health Care
President Samuelson has received a number of scholastic honors, and is the author or co-author of 48 original publications, eight books or chapters of books and 13 abstracts. He has also served as a director, officer and member of several national medical and hospital organizations.
Oct. 1, 1994: Called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy
President Samuelson has also served as a regional representative, stake president, stake high councilor, branch president and area president in the Utah North and Europe North Areas.
2001: Called as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy
May 1, 2003: Sworn in as the 12th president of Brigham Young University; released from Presidency of the Seventy
During a Jan. 10, 2012 university address, President Samuelson recalled what President Gordon B. Hinckley said when he extended the call to the BYU presidency.
“When our absolute loyalty and allegiance to BYU seem to be occasionally questioned or perhaps not fully understood, I often remark that I assume the questioner has never been in the office of the president of the Church,” President Samuelson said. “When I was called by President Gordon B. Hinckley to take this leadership assignment at BYU, he said, ‘We would like you to … put on a blue coat.’ By that he meant he expected and charged us with putting all our loyalties, energies, and enthusiasm behind the cause that we know as Brigham Young University. Even in the face of our obvious inadequacies, we believe we have done so.”
Oct. 15, 2003–June 2005: Named as chairman of the Mountain West Conference board of directors
Jan. 16, 2008: Named one of the most influential people in Utah County by Utah Valley Magazine, along with LaVell Edwards and Larry King
Oct. 1, 2011: Granted Emeritus General Authority status
March 11, 2014: President Henry B. Eyring announces the release of President Samuelson, effective May 1