Michael K. Young Named New President of University of Utah

April 29, 2004 — The State Board of Regents Thursday selected Michael K. Young as the 14th President of the University of Utah. Young, 54, is currently the Dean of the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. President Young will assume his duties this summer. He will succeed J. Bernard Machen, who left January 1 to accept the Presidency of the University of Florida, and Dr. Lorris Betz who has served as Interim President. Dr. Betz will resume his previous roles as Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, Dean of the School of Medicine and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Utah Health System.


President Young’s selection comes after an extensive national search which considered 147 candidates from most states in the United States and three foreign countries. A 21-member Search Committee, chaired by Regent James S. Jardine, narrowed the search to three finalists, which were announced last week.


Board of Regents Vice Chair George E. Mantes noted that the Board “faced a difficult decision, given the personal qualities and experience of each of the finalists. In selecting President Young we believe we have found the person best prepared to lead our Flagship University into the future. He has the right combination of experience and leadership skills. The Regents have every confidence that he will be an outstanding leader and President.”


President Young brings to the University of Utah considerable academic experience, including more than 25 years as a faculty member and the past six years as Dean and Lobinger Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence at the George Washington University Law School. President Young also brings significant government experience as a former official of the United States Department of State. Prior to coming to George Washington in 1998, President Young was on the faculty of Columbia University where he was the Fuyo Professor of Japanese Law (1978-1998). While at Columbia Law School, he was also the Director of the Center for Japanese Legal Studies (1985-1998), Director of the Center for Korean Legal Studies (1995-1998) and Co-Director of the Program on Religion, Human Rights and Religious Freedom (1994-1998). In 1989 he was appointed as the Deputy Legal Adviser for the U.S. State Department until being appointed as the Deputy Under Secretary for Economic and Agricultural Affairs in 1991, and from 1992-1993 he served as the Ambassador for Trade and Environmental Affairs.


As Dean of the George Washington University Law School he was instrumental in the school seeing an increase in the mean GPA and LSAT scores of students, strengthening the school’s profile of minority students including the largest percentage of African-Americans of any “selective” national law school, and significantly expanding the career development office to assist graduates with job placements. He also increased the amount and availability of research grants and created a number of areas of excellence recognized internationally, including the Sloan Program in Corporate Responsibility and Accountability, Joint Masters Degree Program in International Intellectual Property, Domestic Violence Clinic, and International Human Rights Clinic. He is currently serving his second term as Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a major federal advisory commission created by Congress in 1998 to advise the President, the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor and the Congress on U.S. foreign policy and ways in which the United States can more effectively deploy its foreign policy to advance the cause of religious liberties around the world. He has served on the Commission since 1998.


In accepting his appointment President Young stated, “I appreciate the confidence entrusted in me by the Board of Regents. It is a wonderful opportunity to be asked to come to the University of Utah, which has a wonderful reputation in a number of areas. I look forward to working with the excellent administrators, faculty, and staff of the University, getting to know the students and becoming part of the larger Utah community. Suzan and I have loved Utah for a very long time, and to be able to return to this state for this purpose is very gratifying.”


President Young received a B.A. (Summa Cum Laude with Highest Honors) in Political Science and Japanese from Brigham Young University. He earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School (Magna Cum Laude) where he served for two years on the Harvard Law Review. Following law school he clerked with then U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist.


President Young is married to the former Suzan Stewart, a Registered Nurse, is a native of Orem, Utah. She is also a graduate of Brigham Young University. President and Mrs. Young are the parents of three children: Stewart, a third-year law student at Stanford University, Kathryn, a senior at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Andrew, a senior at George Washington University.


The University of Utah is the flagship institution of the Utah System of Higher Education. Founded in 1850, it is the first and largest public higher education institution in Utah, with more than 28,000 students and a campus comprising almost 1,500 acres in the eastern foothills of Salt Lake City. A major academic and research institution with an extensive health sciences center, the University offers majors in 72 subjects at the undergraduate level and more than 90 major fields of study at the graduate level including law and medical schools.

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