An overview of Kevin J Worthen’s nine-year tenure as BYU president

President Kevin J Worthen addresses students at a conference in 2021. President Worthen will be released as president of BYU in May, with former Academic Vice President C. Shane Reese succeeding him. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve and chair of the Board of Trustees executive committee announced C. Shane Reese as the 14th president of BYU during the devotional held on March 21. Here is a look at some of President Kevin J Worthen’s major accomplishments during his nine-year tenure as BYU president.

President Worthen succeeded Dr. Cecil Samuelson as the 13th president of BYU on May 1, 2014. Over the course of his service, he created various new offices and initiatives to enhance the BYU community.

President Worthen created the Advisory Council on Campus Response to Sexual Assault, which published a report in 2016 listing 23 recommendations on how to improve BYU’s sexual misconduct policy. In 2018, the recommendations were put in place, and a clear division between the Title IX Office and the Honor Code Office was created.

In 2017, President Worthen created the Office of Experiential Learning, which strives to connect students with experiential learning activities across campus. In the same year, President Worthen also announced a 10-year partnership with the Utah Transit Authority that would allow students to ride public transit for free.

From 2017 to 2019, President Worthen oversaw various changes to the BYU application process that de-emphasized test scores and placed a greater focus on a student’s lived experience.

President Worthen created the Committee on Race, Equity and Belonging in 2020, which sought to examine issues of race and inequality at BYU and provide recommendations on how to address these specific issues. The committee eventually published its findings in a 63-page report with 26 recommendations for BYU to implement.

Following the report’s publication, President Worthen championed the creation of the Office of Belonging, which focuses on helping campus members achieve a community of belonging and coordinates various belonging services and efforts on campus.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, President Worthen guided BYU through various changes as the university transitioned to online learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. From implementing complete remote instruction to overseeing various campus modifications to make classrooms pandemic-friendly, President Worthen ensured students did not have to choose between their education and their health.

Changes to student housing policy, the admittance of caffeinated drinks in campus vending machines and campus restaurants, and the creation of a new basketball chant, “Whoosh! Kevin,” are further examples of President Worthen’s numerous contributions to the BYU community during his time as president.

President Worthen will be succeeded by C. Shane Reese, former academic vice president.

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