Chris Pendleton · April 11, 2017
Bruce L. Olsen, former global Managing Director of Public Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will address graduates, faculty, staff, students, and friends of Southern Virginia University at the 2017 commencement exercises on Saturday, Apr. 29 at 10 a.m.
“We are thrilled and honored to have a man of the personal and professional stature of Bruce Olsen deliver the keynote commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate at this year’s Commencement,” said President Reed N. Wilcox. “As the former Managing Director of Public Affairs for the worldwide Church, and trusted advisor of President Gordon B. Hinckley and other senior leaders of the Church, Bruce has done as much as any other person to help build the Church’s modern public image and help integrate the LDS faith into mainstream media and culture.
“Bruce is also a dedicated advocate and friend of Southern Virginia University who personifies the values of our institution and exemplifies everything we hope our graduates will become,” President Wilcox continued. “He has served magnificently and has earned the trust, faith, and friendship of the global Church. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to honor and receive counsel from a man of such exceptional accomplishment who has dealt with both the sunshine and the storms of life, but remains humble, kind, and generous in caring for others. He is a man for all seasons.”
In his nearly 20 years of overseeing the LDS Public Affairs Department, Olsen directed worldwide offices in eleven countries, and domestic offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City. He was responsible for government affairs, community relations, and the interfaith and media relations programs. Olsen also helped coordinate and orchestrate some of the Church’s most memorable and successful public affairs endeavors, including President Hinckley’s groundbreaking interview on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace and Salt Lake City’s successful hosting of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Prior to managing public affairs for the Church, Olsen worked at Brigham Young University as Assistant to the President for University Relations, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Records, and as Associate Professor in the School of Communications. He also served as BYU Student Body President and later as President of the 370,000-member BYU Alumni Association.
Southern Virginia has been fortunate to have Olsen serve on campus as an Associate Professor and Special Assistant to the President, as well as the founder of Zion’s Camp, the University’s summer missionary-preparation program for LDS teenagers. Olsen also co-chairs the University’s Western States Advisory Committee with his wife Christine, who previously served as Southern Virginia’s public affairs manager.
Throughout his career, Olsen has served on several local and national boards such as CASE, Vision Interfaith Television Network, the Utah Lung Association, Utah Heritage Foundation and the Religious Alliance Against Pornography. He is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America and belongs to the Society’s College of Fellows, and currently he works part-time as Senior Consultant for Coltrin & Associates — a public relations firm based in New York.
Olsen also served as President of the Massachusetts Boston Mission, President of the San Diego Temple, and on the Young Men General Board of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as a stake president, high councilor, and bishop of local congregations of the Church.
He and his wife, Christine, have five children and 16 grandchildren.