Holland is the son of Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife, Patricia. Raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the LDS or Mormon Church), his father would later become an administrator then president of the church-owned Brigham Young University (BYU). In 1994 his father became an Apostle in the LDS Church.
Holland received his bachelor's degree in political science from BYU and then went on to earn masters and doctoral degrees from Duke University. After graduation he became an associate professor of Political Science at BYU in Provo, Utah. Building on his dissertation, he published Bonds of Affection: Civic Charity and the Making of America with Georgetown University Press in 2007. Legal scholar Robert P. George called Holland "a rising star in the field of American political thought." In 2006 Holland was a James Madison Fellow at Princeton University.
In March 2009 Holland was made president of Utah Valley University (UVU) in nearby Orem, Utah and began his duties in July 2009. His appointment was criticized by the non-Mormon minority in Utah who noted Holland's inexperience in administrative roles and close family relationship with the senior leadership of the LDS Church.
Holland is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a founding member of the board of directors of the controversial group National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which heavily funded support for California's Proposition 8. He resigned his position when he was appointed president of Utah Valley University, giving time constraints as a reason. His seat was filled in April 2009 by Orson Scott Card, Mormon sci-fi novelist. 
Elizabeth Hitch (interim)
|President of Utah Valley University
2009 – present