About the Center for Constitutional Studies

Mission Statement

The Center is a nonpartisan academic institute that promotes the instruction, study, and research of constitutionalism. In particular, it examines important constitutional issues found at the intersections of political thought, public policy, religion, law, history, and economics. It employs a multidisciplinary approach to more effectively equip a new generation of citizens and leaders with a broad understanding of political thought and economic and political practices critical to the perpetuation of constitutional government, ordered liberty, and the rule of law.

Interim Director's Message

Scott Paul

I am humbled to join the distinguished company of directors of the Center for Constitutional Studies at Utah Valley University. Dr. Rick Griffin, our Founding Director, Dr. Andrew Bibby, who followed as Interim Director, and Dr. Rodney Smith, our most recent Director, have established the Center as a leading academic institution for the instruction and study of constitutionalism.

I join with my colleagues in the Center for Constitutional Studies and with all of our friends at Utah Valley University and beyond in mourning the loss of our dear friend, Dr. Rodney K. Smith. The Center flourished under Rod’s leadership. We who knew him will always be inspired by his goodness and his passion for our mission.

Never in the Center’s first decade of operation has our work been more important than it is today. According to Annenberg and Pew polls, civics knowledge is at an alarming low among the American public. I look forward to continued engagement with students, educators, government officials, and friends and supports of the Center as we further our mission to increase constitutional literacy at the local, state, and national levels.

In all our endeavors, we stand firmly committed to advancing the public virtue of civility. From the debates in the sweltering Philadelphia summer heat of 1787 to the presentations at the Center’s latest Constitution Day conference, respect and decorum have prevailed, even among those whose ideas were diametrically opposed. We invite all to model civil discourse as we continue the pursuit of a more perfect union.

Directors' Messages

Dr. Rick Griffin

Dr. Rick Griffin

Founding Director Dr. Rick Griffin

It is an honor to be the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Studies (CCS) at Utah Valley University – a nonpartisan, academic center that promotes the instruction, study, and research of constitutionalism, the rule of law, and ordered liberty.

When CCS was first charged in 2011 with becoming a regional hub for constitutional studies, it seemed an almost unattainable objective. Over the last several action-packed years, however, that is exactly what has occurred.

Dedicated to excellence, CCS employed unusual energy and vision via hard-hitting academic programming, distinguished academic and government contributors, a demanding student mentoring program, and a rigorous constitutional studies degree program to emerge as a regional hub and national leader in constitutional studies.

Because the Constitution is the political blueprint and fundamental law of the nation, it is of enormous importance that every citizen understand it.

Therefore, as the Center begins a new chapter of its development, under the leadership of Director Rodney Smith and Associate Director Andrew Bibby, I heartily encourage you to continue to support this important and timely academic endeavor.

Lastly, I would like to personally thank those faculty, staff, students, administrators, and other friends of the Center who have made the aforementioned accomplishments possible.

Rick Griffin, J.D., Ph.D., LL.M., J.S.D.

About Rick A. Griffin

Rick A. Griffin has a broad background in constitutional studies. Dr. Griffin has taught constitutionally-related courses at BYU, and at UVU, where he is presently an Associate Professor of Political Science and History. His primary research interests are in constitutional law, government, history, and theory; judicial politics; and the U.S. Supreme Court. He has written on issues pertaining to constitutional law, disability law, and education law, and is currently writing an article on Chief Justice John Jay and a book on George Washington's Administrations. Dr. Griffin is the recipient of several teaching awards, and was honored by Utah Valley Magazine as one of the "50 Most Fabulous People of 2012."

In 1996, Griffin earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi, where he pursued his interest in civil rights. He also completed law courses at the University of Cambridge (where he studied with renowned scholars Sir Christopher Greenwood and J.A. Hopkins) and at J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University (BYU). In 2006, Griffin completed a Ph.D. at BYU, where he studied constitutional law and education law. He was also an Associate Editor of the Education and Law Journal. In 2007, he was accepted to the prestigious Master of Laws (LL.M.) program at the University of California, Berkeley. While at Boalt Hall, he excelled in his advanced studies in constitutional law, judicial politics, and early modern Anglo-American constitutional history and political thought, and was one of only a few from an international pool of applicants to be admitted to the highly-restricted Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) program. During his J.S.D. program, Griffin completed advanced coursework and research in constitutional law, history, and theory, and public law (e.g., judicial politics, judicial selection, and U.S. Supreme Court).

If you would like to contact Dr. Rick Griffin, his office is located in CB 203K and his email is RGriffin@uvu.edu.

Dr. Rodney K. Smith

Dr. Rodney K. Smith

Director Dr. Rodney K. Smith

It is an honor to follow Professor Rick Griffin, the remarkable Founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Studies (CCS) at Utah Valley University (UVU), and Professor Andrew Bibby, who served as an able Interim Director during Dr. Griffin's sabbatical. Dr. Bibby has agreed to continue serving CCS as our associate director. Dr. Griffin, in turn, is now serving as director of the constitutional minor at UVU. We look forward to working with Dr. Griffin as he builds a nationally prominent constitutional studies minor, which will change the lives of students for generations to come.

James Madison, the father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, wisely taught: "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives." The Constitution is the foundation of the rule of law that secures rights and equality for all. It continues to serve our nation well.

A recent Annenberg poll, however, sadly revealed that constitutional literacy and understanding are waning. Only 38% of American citizens could name each of the three branches of government and 35% were unable to name a single branch of government. Without increased constitutional understanding, the rule of law and our nation's free government are in jeopardy. We pledge, as the Center for Constitutional Studies, to do all we can to build nonpartisan understanding, and to do our part to help secure the constitutional basis of our democratic republic.

We are committed to maintaining the standard of excellence and nonpartisanship set by Dr. Griffin and those who worked with him to build the Center, as it fulfilled its charge to be a nationally recognized leader in the effort to increase constitutional understanding. CCS has increased constitutional understanding by bringing distinguished academic and government contributors to campus to engage in a vibrant dialogue, by creating a demanding student mentoring program (the Woods Fellows), and by working with the partners, including such as the legislature's Commission on Federalism and Oxford University's Quill Program. Students will also reap the benefits of Dr. Griffin's efforts to build a quality academic program in the form of a vibrant undergraduate minor in constitutional studies.

Today, CCS has emerged as a regional hub and national leader in constitutional studies. We will continue to build constitutional understanding on that firm foundation. Come join with us.

Rodney K. Smith, Ph.D.

If you would like to contact Dr. Rodney K. Smith, his office is located in FL 304B and his email is rodney.smith@uvu.edu

Dr. Andrew Bibby

Dr. Andrew Bibby

Associate Director Dr. Andrew Bibby

It is a privilege and an honor to serve as associate director of the Center for Constitutional Studies. The Center has become one of Utah Valley University's most impressive academic institutes—one that strives not only to teach about the Constitution (the facts), but also the reasons for and the process behind the creation of the United States Constitution (the why).

In my time here, I have witnessed firsthand the enormous impact that the Center has had on the lives of students, fellows, associated faculty, and the larger public throughout the Mountain West. Through major conferences, student mentoring, prestigious internships, special guest lectures, and visits from nationally recognized legal scholars and practitioners, the Center continues to flourish as a unique hub of intellectual activity and constitutional studies. Thank you for helping us to achieve the Center's vital educational mission.

Andrew Scott Bibby, Ph.D.

If you would like to contact Dr. Andrew Bibby, his office is located in FL 304A, and his email is abibby@uvu.edu.