BYU students may know Matthew O. Richardson as a Doctrine and Covenants professor, but he’s received a new title as of May 14.
President Kevin J Worthen called Richardson into his office without previous notice and appointed him as BYU’s new advancement vice president — the job Worthen held before being named the university’s president May 1.
“How did I feel? Overwhelmed. That might be a capital O, capital V, capital E …” Richardson said. “It was right before walking into class, so I’m not quite sure if class made much sense to anybody.”
As vice president, Richardson will oversee athletics, University Communications, BYU Broadcasting, alumni, external relations and philanthropy.
“It was a little overwhelming, but at the same time it was exciting; if I could be a part of BYU in any way, shape or form that’s an exciting part for me,” Richardson said.
Richardson will assume some of his responsibilities now and make a full transition into the position once his spring term classes end. Students have already booked all of Richardson’s fall semester classes, but it’s unclear now if he’ll have time to teach.
Richardson is a BYU graduate, having received all three of his degrees here. He majored in advertising as an undergraduate but fell in love with education as a teacher at the MTC. He would later receive his master’s and doctoral degrees in educational leadership.
Richardson served in the Denmark Copenhagen Mission and, upon returning, moved to Liberty Square apartments in Provo. His roommates invited him to knock on doors to meet everyone in the ward. That activity had long-term consequences. “We knocked on a door, and my wife (Lisa) was in apartment number 14, and that was the first I met her.”
Richardson considers his wife the most influential person in his life after Jesus Christ. Without Christ’s Atonement, he thinks his wife would have never accepted his invitation to start dating.
“My wife is not a woman of faith,” Richardson said. “She is perhaps the woman of faith.”
When Richardson asked his father if he should marry her, his father asked him how he felt when he was around her. He told him about all the fun and excitement they had together, but after searching deeper, he told him how she made him want to be increasingly better, stronger, funnier and spiritual.
“My dad said, without any hesitation, ‘Matt, you marry that girl and you will be happy all the days of your life,'” Richardson said. “And he was prophetic.”
They have been married for 31 years and return to visit Liberty Square apartments every anniversary. They have raised four children: Zachary, Megan, Lauren and Tyler.
Richardson served as second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency from 2009 to April 2014. Those he served with heavily influenced him, as he worked closely with members of the church and auxiliary presidencies, as well as with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“Elder Holland has been an inspirational model for me since I was a student here at BYU, and he was the president of BYU,” Richardson said. “I will always be forever grateful for the impact he had upon me as a student as well as just up until four weeks ago. I love him for it.”
Richardson plans on following the BYU Board of Trustees’ prophetic vision in supervising athletics, BYU Broadcasting and all of his other responsibilities. Just as the name of his new office — advancement — suggests, he plans on advancing these areas and touching the lives many people.