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REASSIGNMENT FUELS DEBATE ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM AT Y.

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The reassignment of the director of the annual women's conference at Brigham Young University by LDS Church officials has sparked more controversy regarding the lack of academic freedom at BYU.

Carol Lee Hawkins, who headed the conference for the past five years and instigated the record numbers of women that attended the conference, has been told she will be given another job at BYU."I have no information as to why it happened. All I can say is that we are proud of what we have accomplished with the conference," Haw-kins said.

Some see it as another attack by the university on LDS feminists after the dismissal in June of feminist English professor Cecilia Konchar Farr during her third-year review.

Martha Nibley Beck, who taught sociology at BYU, has resigned in protest.

"It was the last straw. A lot of things built up to it. To me it is not a feminist issue. It is an issue of the allocation of power," said Beck, who is one of many faculty members who is concerned that the annual women's conference is now controlled ultimately by male LDS Church leaders.

BYU officials say it is just a change of assignment that came at a bad time.

"Carole Lee Hawkins is a wonderful administrator who has gone out on a marvelous success. This is just a rotation of assignment. We have every desire to keep her attached to the university," said BYU President Rex Lee.

"Carole Lee is so valuable. She is a bridge builder and fence mender. The intention was always to keep her as part of the university. They just wanted a change of approach and that's not to be construed as unhappiness," said BYU spokeswoman Margaret Smoot.

The conference started as a small event in the 1970s, sponsored by a women's student organization on campus.

In 1984, it became an event planned and run by faculty women who wanted some hard-hitting discussion of issues, according to former conference director and BYU history professor Mary Sto-vall Richards.

In 1990, co-sponsorship of the conference by the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began.

"Carole Lee is moderate, diplomatic and tactful. It is devastating for women faculty at BYU that even the safest and most moderate is in danger. If that's the case, then the rest of us are too," said BYU English professor Gail Houston who recently passed her third-year review with provisions.