Memo from E. Bruce Heilman to James L. Ferrell

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Memo from E. Bruce Heilman to James L. Ferrell


This item is a series of memos sharing a letter from J. Stanley Pottinger, Director of the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S.Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) to Ernest L. Wilkinson, President of Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah. The original letter, dated March 5, 1971, informs President Wilkinson that BYU's policy of "giving preference to Mormons for faculty and administrative positions" did not constitute religious discrimination to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, and determined that "affiliation with the Mormon Church is a bona fide occupational qualification for faculty members and administrators" reasons including the foundation of BYU as a University "to provide education a a religious setting which permeates the entire life of the school," that faculty members are sometimes recruited from other colleges to teach courses in Mormon theology, that faculty and administrators are tasked with serving as leaders in wards and states at BYU, that students requesting counsel from faculty and administrators should receive counsel that aligns with BYU's "desires that such advice be consistent with the Church's principles," that teaching needs to be done by those familiar with Mormon principles, and that the university encourages participation with the Mormon Church from faculty and administrators. Pottinger concludes by noting that even though this preference has not been labeled as discrimination, any discrimination "with regard to race, color, sex, or national origin" would prompt "affirmative action" from the federal government.

This letter was shared with University of Richmond President E. Bruce Heilman by Assistant to the President & Director of Estate Planning Charles W. Patterson, III on July 4, 1973, it was given to Patterson by Asbner McCall. Heilman shared it with James L. Ferrel on July 5, 1973, noting: "I think you ought to keep this in your file as we consider our own situation as it relates to some of my concerns that we not be penalized for religious tie. Founded as a Baptist seminary in 1830, the University of Richmond would not entirely separate from the Baptist church until 1999.


Memo from E. Bruce Heilman to James L. Ferrell, 05 July 1973, RG 6.2.5 Box 25 Folder 4, University Archives, Virginia Baptist Historical Society.









Richmond (Va.)

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Student Contributor



Heilman, E. Bruce (Earl Bruce), 1926-, “Memo from E. Bruce Heilman to James L. Ferrell,” University of Richmond Race & Racism Project, accessed June 24, 2024,