Mormon Mission Fallout To Shake Up Utah Colleges

Ann McClure's picture

Saturday was supposed to be about NCAA football for Southern Utah University President Michael Benson.

But news out of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints promptly changed the subject less than three hours before the Thunderbirds’ kickoff against Sacramento State.

Instead of boasting about the mighty arm of quarterback Brad Sorenson, Benson spent the morning fielding questions from trustees and alumni about how reduced ages for missionary service will affect the Cedar City school.

"I had more questions about it than I knew how to handle," Benson said. "We’re in the nascent stages of trying to figure out what policies we can come up with to accommodate them. It will impact our recruiting and scholarship policies."

He also expects a dip in enrollment next semester if many students, who now qualify for Mormon missions under the new policy, opt to leave school. Currently, nearly a fifth of SUU’s freshman class leaves on missions each year.

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