Elder Neal A. Maxwell (July 6, 1926–July 21, 2004) served as a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from July 23, 1981 until his death on July 21, 2004. He served as a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy from 1976 to 1981, and as an Assistant to the Twelve from 1974 to 1976. A life-long educator, Elder Maxwell was Executive Vice President at the University of Utah at the time of his appointment as the Commissioner of Education for the Church Educational System where he served from 1970 to 1976.
Prior to his Church callings, Elder Maxwell held a variety of administrative and teaching positions with the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He earlier served as a legislative assistant to United States Senator Wallace F. Bennett of Utah.
He wrote 30 books and numerous articles. Several of his books received literary prizes for LDS literature. Earlier he authored many articles on politics and government for national, professional, and local publications.
A political science graduate of the University of Utah, Elder Maxwell also earned a master’s degree in that field from the same school. He later was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Utah, an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Westminster College, Salt Lake City, an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, and an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Utah State University, Logan, Utah.
In the fall of 1998, the University of Utah announced the establishment of the Neal A. Maxwell Presidential Endowed Chair in Political Theory, Public Policy, and Public Service.
Prior to his call to direct the Church’s worldwide education system, he had served the Church in a variety of positions, including bishop of Salt Lake City’s University Sixth Ward, a member of the General Board of the Y.M.M.I.A., the Church’s organization for young men, a member of the Adult Correlation Committee, and as one of the first Regional Representatives of the Twelve. As a young man, he served two years as a missionary in eastern Canada after serving in the United States Army during World War II.
Elder Maxwell served as a director of several business firms, including Questar Corporation, Questar Pipeline, and Deseret News Publishing Company, and was active in public service such as Chairman of the Utah Constitutional Revision Commission.
In 2006, BYU’s Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts (ISPART) was renamed the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. Then-director Andrew C. Skinner explained that the name change suggests the Maxwell Institute’s focus on “all the things that Elder Maxwell was interested in doing — helping Latter-day Saints understand the richness of their own tradition and helping people of other faiths understand the richness of their backgrounds.” For more, see the Maxwell Institute’s mission statement.