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College Leaders in Utah Ponder the Effects of a Church Policy Change

A decision by leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to lower the minimum mission age from 21 to 19 for women and from 19 to 18 for men is expected to have a profound influence on college life across Utah. Opinions are mixed on whether younger mission service will hinder or help efforts to retain students and improve graduation rates.

Saturday was supposed to be about NCAA football for Southern Utah University’s president, Michael Benson. Instead, Benson spent the morning fielding questions from trustees and alumni about how reduced ages for missionary service will affect the Cedar City institution. “I had more questions about it than I knew how to handle,” he 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.”

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