Non-LDS professors at BYU

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The Star of David, the Crucifix, and the Islamic star and crescent are a few of the many religious symbols not commonly seen at BYU.

Though it would be easy to assume that all students, faculty and staff at BYU are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is not the case.

One example is Professor John Hughes, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a communications professor at BYU and a member of the Christian Science Church.

BYU chemistry professor Julie Boerio-Goates attends her Catholic Church in Orem. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

Hughes is a former reporter and editor for the Christian Science Monitor, an international news organization, where he was a foreign correspondent and worked in Africa and Asia. It was during his travels that he first met a member of the Church.

“The first Mormon that I ever met was in Cape Town, South Africa,” Hughes said. “He was a very nice fellow and said he was a Mormon. I didn’t have any idea what a Mormon was.”

Hughes would learn a great deal about the Mormons in the years to come. His career as a journalist later led him to become the associate director of the United States Information Agency for the Reagan Administration.

While working at the Reagan administration, he met his future wife, who was a BYU graduate in print and television journalism.

“I didn’t know much about her but that she was a very nice person,” Hughes said. “I didn’t smoke or drink, and nor did she.”

Through his success as a journalist, Hughes later met President Gordon B. Hinckley, who asked him to become the editor of the Desert News in Salt Lake City, a position he held for 10 years.

“President Gordon B. Hinckley was astoundingly knowledgeable about newspapers,” Hughes said. “He had a great sense of humor, and I treasured the time I knew him.”

Professor Eula Ewing Monroe, from the BYU Teacher Education Department, is another faculty member at BYU who is not a member of the LDS church.

Monroe, a Southern Baptist, first came to know BYU when she attended a national conference in Salt Lake City in May of 1990.

On the BYU Religious Studies Center website, Monroe talks about her experience visiting BYU.

“While at the conference, I rented a car and drove to Provo to visit Bob Cooter, then a faculty member in the Department of Elementary Education at BYU and a longtime friend from graduate school days,” Monroe said. “In passing and almost in jest, I chatted with Bob about potential opportunities for part-time employment in mathematics education.”

After leaving Provo, Monroe received a call from the department about a potential job opportunity.

“I was amazed that a Southern Baptist would be considered for a position at BYU, and I had serious doubts about whether I would want to work at BYU if the opportunity arose,” Monroe said.

When offered the position, Monroe said she received confirmation through the Holy Spirit that she should accept the position and has enjoyed her years at BYU. She is an active member of her church, First Baptist in Provo, and is currently serving as the adviser for the Baptist School Union (now called CrossSeekers) on campus.

“I love my work at BYU,” Monroe said on a BYU Religious Studies Center website. “As a Southern Baptist whose colleagues and students are almost all of the LDS faith, my story of finding God is not one of conversion to Mormonism. To the contrary, it is the story of how my own faith has been strengthened during my years on the faculty at BYU.”

Chemistry and biochemistry professor Juliana Boerio-Goates is Catholic. While teaching at BYU her faith as a Roman Catholic has been strengthened.

“Teaching at BYU has helped make me a better Catholic,” Boerio-Goates said. “I was better able to study my faith because of the opportunities I’ve had to share it with others.”

Boerio-Goates learned more about the Church through her husband, Steven Goates, who is LDS. The couple has taught in the chemistry and biochemistry department since 1982.

Boerio-Goates said she is open to learning more about the LDS faith and on occasion will read the Ensign and watch devotionals. She also has a son serving a mission.

Being a Roman Catholic at BYU, Boerio-Goates has had opportunities where she has been invited to share her faith with students. It has given her a chance to reflect more about her faith and to help students come to a better understanding on what Roman Catholics believe.

Boerio-Goates, who will be retiring at the end of the year, said she will always remember BYU for the kindness she felt from students and faculty.

“BYU is a wonderful place to teach at, and I love how warm and inviting the campus feels,” Boerio-Goates said.

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