BYU professor to work in Washington, D.C.

Professor Derek Brown (Courtesy of Derek Brown)
Derek Brown (Courtesy of Derek Brown)

One of BYU’s professors has left Utah to work in Washington, D.C.

Utah State Rep. and BYU adjunct professor Derek Brown (R) resigned from the state legislature on Jan. 2 to work for United States Sen. Mike Lee’s staff as the new State Director and Deputy Chief of Staff.

Brown assumed his new role at Lee’s office on Jan. 3, replacing Lee’s chief of staff, Boyd Matheson, the interim State Director for the past year.

Brown is passionate about having an influence at the federal level, but it was a difficult decision to step down from the state legislature.

“It is a frustrating feeling that we have no say over our state,” Brown said. “We are boxed in as a state. As a state we are doing really well and we are doing so many things right, but we have no say as a state.”

Brown said he feels strongly about what Lee is doing and agrees with what Lee stands for.

“I am thrilled to have Derek Brown on board,” Sen. Lee said in a prepared statement. “I have known him since I helped recruit him to Sidley & Austin 11 years ago and look forward to what he will contribute to our staff, our constituents, and leaders within the State of Utah.”

This is not Brown’s first experience with the federal government. He served as legal counsel to Sen. Orrin Hatch and former Sen. Robert Bennett.

Brown said he will still make time in his new schedule to teach at BYU. This semester he is teaching at the Salt Lake Center and will return to the Provo campus in future semesters.

“At BYU, I can engage in really interesting conversations of religion, politics, law and matter of conscience,” Brown said. “In state schools, I can’t do that. I love the students (at BYU).”

Students at BYU said they love Brown too.

“I loved how determined he was to make the class interesting and relevant,” said Tawny Zambrano, a communications major from Aliso Viejo, Calif. “He would always talk to students after class and answer all of my questions.”

Ed Carter, a dean in the School of Fine Arts and Communication, said Brown brings relevance to students in a compelling way.

“He is energetic, knowledgeable and has enthusiasm for the subject matter,” Carter said.

Brown was originally elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 2010. He served as the chair of the Occupational Professional Licensing Review Committee, vice chair of the Rules Committee and member of both the Business/Labor and Law Enforcement Committees.

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