New Dean Appointed to Head BYU Religious Education

BYU academic vice president Brent W. Webb has announced the appointment of Brent L. Top as dean of Religious Education. Dr. Top was serving as the chair of the Department of Church History and Doctrine. He began his five-year term as dean on July 1.

Dr. Top received broad support from the faculty and strong endorsement from the search committee and has the full confidence of the BYU administration. He brings a combination of experiences that prepare him well for this new responsibility. He is looking forward to working with Religious Education and helping it to continue in its progress and development.

“The search committee had a difficult task because there were several other very qualified candidates. We appreciate the willingness of these candidates to be considered,” said Webb. “May I take this opportunity to thank publicly the search committee, the candidates, and those of you who participated so thoughtfully in this process,” he said.

“I am also deeply grateful to Dean Terry Ball, who has provided fine service to Religious Education and has brought insights and skills to our university councils,” he concluded.

Brent Top is a professor of Church history and doctrine. He received all of his degrees from Brigham Young University—a BA in history, a master’s degree in instructional media, and a PhD in instructional science and technology. Prior to joining the BYU Religious Education faculty in 1987, he worked for the Church Educational System as a released-time seminary teacher, an institute teacher, and an administrator. Dr. Top served as associate dean of Religious Education from 1997 to 2002. He held the Endowed Professorship in Moral Education for two years prior to his call as president of the Illinois Peoria Mission (2004–2007). He was appointed department chair in June 2009. He was born and raised in Idaho Falls and served a full-time mission to the Denmark Copenhagen Mission. He is married to the former Wendy Cope, also from Idaho Falls. They are the parents of four children and reside in Pleasant Grove, Utah, where Brother Top currently serves as the president of the Pleasant Grove Utah East Stake.

Due to Top’s appointment, other changes became necessary to fill his vacancy. Replacing him as the chair of the Department of Church History and Doctrine is Richard E. Bennett, who was serving as an associate dean to Dean Ball. He is being replaced by Dana M. Pike, who has been serving as the publications director of BYU’s Religious Studies Center. The other associate dean of Religious Education, Dennis Wright, is retiring from BYU and is being replaced by Robert C. Freeman, who was serving as the associate chair of the Department of Church History and Doctrine.

For more information, contact Lori Soza, lori_soza@byu.edu, (801) 422-2736.