Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a general authority since 1989 and former president of Brigham Young University, was called as the LDS Church's newest apostle Thursday.

The announcement came from President Howard W. Hunter.Elder Holland fills a vacancy in the Council of the Twelve left when President Hunter became president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints earlier this month, following the death of President Ezra Taft Benson.

Elder Holland is the second new apostle appointed this year. Elder Robert D. Hales was ordained to the high post in April.

At 53 years old, Elder Holland also becomes the youngest member of the 12-man quorum, which oversees church programs and operations worldwide on an executive level.

But Elder Holland's name is familiar among Mormons worldwide. He is currently second counselor in North America West Area and earlier was president of the Europe North Area.

The southern Utah native was sustained to the church's first Quorum of the Seventy in April 1989, while he was president of church-owned Brigham Young University. He had headed BYU, the nation's largest private university, since 1980.

During his administration, he was known for his easygoing manner and sense of humor, which won over faculty and students alike. He also championed the cause of instilling values in American higher education. In a 1984 speech to the National Press Club, Elder Holland said values and ethics were "notions at risk" in American schools.

"The real crisis in higher education is that tens of thousands of people go through the schools without being impressed with the fact that honesty is the best policy, corny as it sounds," he told a reporter in 1982.

Elder Holland holds a doctorate in American studies and a master's in philosophy from Yale University. He also holds a master's in religious education and a bachelor's in English, both from BYU.

He taught at LDS Institutes of Religion throughout the country during the 1960s. Following his graduate studies at Yale in 1974, he became dean of religious instruction at BYU at age 33. Two years later, he was named commissioner of the church's educational system. Elder Holland was born in St. George on Dec. 3, 1940, to Frank D. and Alice Bentley Holland. He attended Dixie High School and Dixie College. After returning from a mission to England, he married Patricia Terry, whom he first met in high school. They have three children.

His wife is also well-known in church circles, having served as a counselor in the church's Young Women general presidency. The pair are popular speakers to youths and young-adult groups.

Elder Holland has also served as a bishop, stake president's counselor, stake high councilor and as a director of the former Melchizedek Priesthood MIA program.