Faculty and Staff Profiles

Scott C. Esplin

Title: Publications Director
Office: 185A HGB
Phone: 801-422-6401
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Scott C. Esplin was born in Richfield, Utah and raised in Washington and Ohio before finally finding home in southern Utah.  After serving in the Italy Catania mission, he earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Southern Utah University (1997).  Scott later received an M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Foundations from Brigham Young University (2001, 2006), focusing his studies on the history of LDS Church academies.  Prior to joining Religious Education at BYU, Brother Esplin taught for the Church Educational System for nine years.  His current research continues to examine the history of Latter-day Saint education as well as the development of Church historic sites.  He also serves as the publications director for the Religious Studies Center.  He and his wife, the former Janice Garrett, live in Lindon, Utah and are the parents of four children.

Joany Pinegar
Title: Publications Coordinator
Office: 185 HGB
Phone: 801-422-6975
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Joany is originally from Minnesota. She graduated from BYU with a degree in elementary education. She taught first grade for a time and loved teaching elementary children. She also traveled across the U.S., training library personnel to use library automation software. Joany likes to read, hike, travel, and go camping. She also loves to spend time with her seven beautiful children and eight incredibly adorable grandbabies!

In her duties for the RSC, Joany works closely with the publications director, executive editor, production supervisor, and great student employees on all RSC publications. She also assists with travel, budgeting, media relations, special projects, and other office management responsibilities. Joany could also be called communications director since all communication addressed to the RSC goes through Joany to be recorded and processed. Anything sent any other way or through any other person runs the risk of being undocumented and lost. Submissions, return for edits, and reviews come to Joany and then are sent to the publications director for processing.

Devan Jensen
Title: Executive Editor
Office: 167A HGB
Phone: 801-422-9304
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Devan Jensen has thirty years of experience working with books, journals, magazines, and (more recently) social media. Hired in 2001 to professionalize the RSC publications, he has led talented teams to edit about 250 books or book-length projects, which garnered many awards, including four from the Mormon History Association. In 2016 he received the BYU President's Appreciation Award, and in 2015 he received the Dean's Award for exceptional service.  He has been an adjunct instructor in business writing, editing, and religion at BYU and Utah Valley University and an editor for the Ensign magazine, Church Publishing Services Department, and Deseret Book Company. He has presented at Campus Education Week, LDS Publishing and Media Association, Mormon History Association Conference, Pacific History Association Conference, and Utah State History Conference. He is a member of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, founding member of LDS Educators Association, longtime Scout leader, and Eagle Scout. As a National Merit Scholar, he received his BA (cum laude) and MA degrees in English from BYU. He is compiling a book on Mormons in Micronesia, emerging from his missionary service in Guam and Pohnpei in Micronesia. He and his wife, Patty, live in Orem, Utah, and have four children and one adorable granddaughter.

Brent R. Nordgren
Title: Operations and Production Supervisor 
Office: 167C HGB
Phone: 801-422-3293
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Brent R. Nordgren is the operations and production supervisor for the BYU’s Religious Studies Center (RSC). As such, he oversees the operation and production of the publications, marketing, and legal matters of the RSC. With the help of a talented team he produces, markets, prints, advertises, distributes, and publicizes the RSC books, journals, and magazines. He is also the managing editor of the BYU Religious Education Review magazine. He has authored a number of articles for the magazine and has facilitated and gathered most of the Review's content since it began in 2008. Brent has also been the RSC website administrator since its inception in 2008. Including books, journals, and magazines, Brent has overseen the production of over 160 publications.

Brent has an entrepreneurial spirit and has owned and operated a number of businesses throughout his career. He received an AS degree with honors from Utah Valley University, a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University, and an MBA from Utah State University. He is the recipient of the staff and administrative employee recognition award (SAERA) from Brigham Young University for his innovative work and by going above and beyond his responsibilities. He also originated the idea of inviting Deseret Book to team up with the RSC to copublish the majority of RSC books published, and he helped negotiate the contractual arrangements to this end.

In high school he was the head yearbook photographer and public relations manager for the school. As a youth he received the Eagle Scout Award. He and his wife, Annette, have four children and ten grandchildren.

Don L. Brugger
Title: Managing Editor
Office: 167D HGB
Phone: 801-647-9289
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Don L. Brugger began his editing career as a proofreader at the Los Angeles Times and refined his skills by teaching high school English and completing a master’s degree at BYU. Along the way he joined the LDS Church, served a full-time mission in Argentina, and consecrated his wordsmithing craft to advancing the venerable aims of LDS publishing: “to copy, and to correct, and select, that all things may be right before [the Lord]” (D&C 57:13). His zeal to assist inspired minds in producing top-notch publications aligned with the LDS faith led him to editing stints at the Church’s Curriculum Department, Deseret Book, the Ensign, and FARMS/Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. A former bishop, Don taught editing classes at BYU for nine years. He and his wife, Tonya, have five children and three grandchildren. After a day’s work, Don enjoys watching the stars come out while he plays bluegrass guitar or, more recently, blues harmonica.

Shirley S. Ricks
Title: Senior Editor
Office: 167B HGB
Phone: 801-422-1529
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Transferred to the Religious Studies Center from the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Shirley Ricks has been an editor since 1989. She earned three degrees from BYU—her PhD was in family studies. She has taught home economics, algebra, and geometry and enjoys embroidery, reading, spending time with family members, and traveling with her husband, Stephen Ricks. A native of Provo, Shirley has lived three years in Jerusalem and has assisted with Study Abroad programs in Vienna and London. Shirley has hiked to the highest elevation of 33 states, and she and Stephen have recently reached their goal of attending all the temples in the United States and Canada. Their six children and eighteen grandchildren bring great joy. 

Emily V. Strong
Title: Lead Designer
Office: 167 HGB

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Emily Strong is a graphic designer and typesetter at the RSC and enjoys any opportunity to work with books. Her lifelong passion for reading and writing led her to receive a BA in English with a minor in editing from BYU. Having worked as an editor for most of her career, she was pleasantly surprised to discover an additional talent in graphic design. In addition to language and design, she loves hiking and anything related to the outdoors, fantasy novels, sketching and painting, all animals, and—most of all—her large family.