University Conference

From Pioneer Roots to a World-Class, Worldwide Institution

President of Brigham Young University

August 23, 1999

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"I thought how important BYU is as a window on the Church. The glass is not dark but clear and allows viewers to see the values and truths of the restored gospel."

In just a few months all of us will experience a first that is rare in the history of humankind. We will enter a new millennium. As we approach the end of the 20th century, the torch of enlightenment shines brighter than ever. The opportunity to learn of intellectual and spiritual truths has never been greater. It is now possible for the world’s population to read about the latest scientific discovery within hours of the event. It is possible for Church members anywhere in the world to access President Hinckley’s latest sermon within minutes of its delivery. The rate of discovery in the world of science is unparalleled. A larger and larger proportion of the world’s population recognizes the value of and seeks after higher education. In this milieu, Brigham Young University has begun to flower as a world-class institution with a potential worldwide influence.

As we approach a new millennium, it seems appropriate to pause for a moment and reflect on the university’s past, to review some key events that have influenced BYU’s journey and remember a few of the many wonderful men and women who pioneered our path to excellence. Following the history, I wish to speak of the present in light of four institutional objectives that have been developed during the past year. These objectives are not new, as they are implied by BYU’s Mission Statement and the aims documents. In a succinct manner, however, they state the university’s reasons for being and the aspirations that guide us. Next I wish to report on the success of the capital campaign and describe the support that is being provided. Finally I will present a brief perspective on the future by looking “through a glass, darkly.” Like Paul of old, we only see and “know in part” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

The Past

Most people associated with Brigham Young University are acquainted with its beginnings. At least we are familiar with President Brigham Young’s charge to Karl G. Maeser: “You ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God.”1 We are also familiar with the stories that describe the financial difficulties experienced during the early years. Elder L. Tom Perry gave us a wonderful summary last evening of the many threats to the school’s existence during its first 75 years. As I reviewed the same history, it was apparent that every president of this institution up to President Ernest L. Wilkinson faced the threat of closure. Why? Because there was no money! The university did not have any! The Church had very little! The people had none!

The school was established in a desert by an immigrant people who were in the early stages of forming an economic base. By 1875 economic transactions were still largely founded on barter. There was little money available and even less in circulation. People were paid in kind with home produce—sometimes from the land and sometimes from the spinning wheel. In spite of the hardships, the LDS people were hungry for education. They prized knowledge, both secular and spiritual. They were willing to sacrifice in order for their children to receive schooling. In this environment, Brigham Young University had its beginnings.

In reviewing the history and progress of the university, I have divided the 125 years into four periods. The first is 1875 to 1900. I have labeled this period “Early Days, Difficult Times.” The second covers a 50-year period from 1900 to 1950. These years are a time of transition from a small normal school to a major university. The label I have affixed is “Building a University Foundation.” The third time frame is coincident with the tenure of President Ernest L. Wilkinson, 1951 to 1971. The 20-year period is one of astounding growth. I have called the Wilkinson era “Growth and Laying a Foundation of Excellence.” The final period covers the last 28 years, 1971–1999. Caps on the size of the university allowed its constituents to focus on quality rather than quantity. Improvements in almost every facet of university life occurred from the classroom to the lab, from the library to the research productivity of the faculty. The title for the last period is “A Time of Excellence.”

I do not intend to review the university’s history today. A full review would be lengthy and laborious. Rather, I will describe one or two key events and, in some cases, relate a story illustrating the legacy inherited from those who have gone before. Perhaps by reviewing our pioneer beginnings and reliving a few key events, we will have a clearer view of what the future may hold. Most important, doing so will help us renew our resolve to continue building an institution of manifest destiny. As I have reviewed various documents relating to the past, it has been interesting to note that every time a crisis occurred that threatened the existence of BYU, the heavens were opened and assurance was given regarding the future of Brigham Young University. We now turn to its fragile beginnings.

1875–1900: Early Days, Difficult Times

There is reason to believe that President Brigham Young had been thinking of establishing a system of LDS educational institutions to serve the population of Utah at least two years before the founding of Brigham Young Academy. At a minimum, there is clear evidence that he wished to form a high-quality university that would include the teaching of religious principles at its core. The basis for this conclusion is a letter written in 1873 by Colonel Thomas L. Kane to President Young that contains the first known reference to a school called Brigham Young University. Colonel Kane’s letter stated:

I know your sentiments; that Utah should before this [1873] have been educating her own teachers, and preparing if not publishing her own text books. The young fledglings who would resort to our Eastern seminaries of learning—to learn what you will hardly be able to unteach them all their days—should even now be training in the Brigham Young University, normal college of the highest grade, to officiate as “Zion” tutors and professors.2

President Young in an earlier communication had told Colonel Kane of his desire to found an educational institution to serve as an offset to the “modern unfaith”3 taught in other schools. Thus, two years before the founding of the academy, the venerable Church leader wanted to establish and endow a major institution of learning.

In addition to Colonel Kane’s letter, a newspaper account of a meeting between Warren Dusenberry and President Young indicated the same. Warren Dusenberry and his brother had established a school in Provo in 1869. By 1875 the school was about to be closed for financial reasons. Upon learning of its pending closure, President Young asked Warren Dusenberry to visit with him. Dusenberry reported the following:

I received a communication from Pres. Brigham Young to call upon him. I did so. After expressing his disapproval of our breaking up the school . . . he said he intended endowing an institution of learning with sufficient means to make it an honor to the Territory and her people. . . . He requested me, in company with others, to immediately draft the necessary papers for founding the BYA. I knew it would require a great struggle, yet I knew it would be what it is today.4

President Young then singled out six prominent men and one woman to serve as trustees. Abraham O. Smoot was elected president of the board. President Young stipulated that the “Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants shall be read and their doctrines inculcated in the Academy” as a counter to the trend of the day that was to eliminate religion from higher education.5 He then deeded to the trustees some of his personal property as an endowment for the academy. Initially, Brigham Young Academy was “not an official Church school, but one of which Brigham Young was individually the founder and proprietor.”6 Brigham Young and his heirs retained the right to approve or disapprove board decisions. For the two years that Brigham lived following the establishment of the school, problems were easily worked out. Following Brigham Young’s death in 1877, however, the final authority for governing the school lay in the hands of his children and grandchildren, of which there were not a few. The family raised questions regarding Brigham Young’s promises to the board of trustees, and it became almost impossible to find agreement.7 As a consequence, the school found itself in financial difficulties within a very short period of time.

Karl G. Maeser was principal of the Twentieth Ward School in Salt Lake City at the time Brigham Young Academy was founded. Shortly thereafter, his schoolhouse was severely damaged by an explosion at a nearby arsenal. Maeser sought out the bishop to report the damage and found him with President Young. Upon learning that Brother Maeser no longer had a building to meet in, Brigham immediately called him to serve as the principal of the new school in Provo. The new school opened in January 1876 under the temporary leadership of Warren Dusenberry. Brother Maeser arrived in April 1876.

Two years later, shortly after the death of Brigham Young, Karl Maeser had a dream. In the dream he was given the design of a new building, but he did not know its purpose. At the time they were meeting in Lewis Hall on Center Street and Third West. In 1884, six years after the dream, Lewis Hall burned to the ground, leaving the school without a place to meet. As the Lewis building was burning, Karl Maeser understood the meaning of his dream six years earlier. His description of the dream is as follows:

I found myself entering a spacious hallway with open doors leading into many rooms, and saw President Brigham Young and a stranger, while ascending the stairs, beckoning me to follow them. Thus they led me into the upper story containing similar rooms and a large assembly hall, where I lost sight of my guides, and awoke. Deeply impressed with this dream, I drew up the plan of the location shown to me and stowed it away without any apparent purpose for its keeping nor any definite interpretation of its meaning, and it lay there almost forgotten for more than six years, when in January, 1884, the old Academy building was destroyed by fire. The want of new localities caused by that calamity brought into remembrance that paper, which on being submitted suggestively to the board, was at once approved of, and our architect, a son of President Young, instructed to put into proper . . . shape. . . . When in future days people will ask for the name of the wise designer of the interior of this edifice, let the answer be: Brigham Young.8

The new building that was completed in 1892 is known today as the Academy or Education Building on what was the lower campus. Given the subsequent history of the building and Brother Maeser’s story that Brigham Young designed it, one appreciates even more the group of Provo citizens that have banded together to save it.

Brigham Young Academy experienced one financial crisis after another following the Lewis building fire. By the mid-1880s, the school was in dire straits. The faculty and staff received only one-third of their salary in 1885.9 Conditions became so desperate that Zina Young Williams appealed to President John Taylor for help. You may remember my retelling of her story at last year’s annual university conference and President Taylor’s response that her father, Brigham Young, had appeared to him in the night and had assured President Taylor that all would be well, “that Christ himself was directing, and had a care over [the] school.”10 At the time, everyone, including Karl Maeser and Abraham O. Smoot, was buried with debt. Brother Maeser became so discouraged that he decided to leave the academy and join the faculty of the University of Deseret. As Elder Perry mentioned last evening, Brother Maeser told his wife and daughter to pack the household goods and personal belongings. For two days Sister Maeser and Eva sat on the trunks waiting to move. On the third day the daughter finally asked when they would be leaving for Salt Lake City. Brother Maeser replied: “I have changed my mind. I have had a dream—I have seen Temple Hill filled with buildings—great temples of learning, and I have decided to remain and do my part in contributing to the fulfillment of that dream.”11

Karl Maeser stayed for another six or seven years until the new building was completed. He was the intellectual and spiritual architect who laid the foundation for today’s magnificent institution. George Brimhall, a student of both Dusenberry and Maeser, described the impact that Karl Maeser had on him in the following words: “Judge Dusenberry showed me the road to higher education, but Karl G. Maeser showed me the way to a higher life.”12

Just as Brother Maeser was the spiritual and intellectual force in the early days of the academy, so Abraham O. Smoot was the financial savior. He was a highly successful businessman, president of the Utah Stake, and mayor of Provo. He died penniless and heavily in debt for personally endorsing loans to save Brigham Young Academy. It is recorded that “his iron will [and administrative abilities] saved the institution a number of times.”13

Benjamin Cluff, Jr., replaced Principal Maeser and served from 1892 to 1903. He proved to be a competent administrator who was quite different in personality and temperament from Karl G. Maeser. At the time of his leaving, Maeser was 63 years of age, “staid in appearance, an adherent of Prussian methodology in education, and conservative as well as sober in his demeanor; while Cluff, on the other hand, was only 34, vibrant, impetuous, and imbued with new educational ideas” he had brought from the University of Michigan. “Maeser advocated a closed educational society for the Church, while Cluff gloried in his . . . association with . . . gentile faculty.”14 The contrast was so stark that some people began comparing the two leaders. Maeser’s daughter reported to her father some of the comments. Brother Maeser then said to the daughter: “Oh, my child, it should never have been said. That is a school of destiny, and no man can thwart its purpose.”15

President Cluff adroitly resisted the notion that Brigham Young Academy become a feeder school to the University of Utah. He guided the institution through the financial panic of 1893–94 and finally convinced Church leaders to incorporate the academy inside the Church. From 1896 onward, the financial well-being of BYU has been intimately tied to the financial conditions of the Church. Throughout this century, sacred funds have provided the means to support the growth and improvements that we now enjoy.

1900–1950: Building a University Foundation

In 1903 the name of the institution was changed to Brigham Young University. The first half of the 20th century was one of dynamic growth as the student body increased from 50 college students to 5,000 by midcentury. The Church assumed all of BYU’s past debts in 1918, and a close alliance developed between the Church and the school. During the first decade the normal training school was expanded to include the training of high school teachers.16 In 1907 the Maeser Memorial Building project was undertaken on Temple Hill—the first building on the upper campus. The faculty sacrificed up to one-half of a year’s salary to make it a reality.17 Five new colleges plus the graduate school were added in the 1920s. The colleges included Education, Arts and Sciences, Commerce and Business Administration, Applied Science, and Fine Arts. Key personnel attracted to the university during this period include Harvey Fletcher, Carl Eyring, Sidney Sperry, Gerrit de Jong, Thomas Martin, Hugh Nibley, Reed Bradford, Clinton Larson, Alma Burton, Herald R. and Harold Glen Clark, and many others.

Jesse Knight and Franklin Harris played major roles in keeping the university moving forward during the first half-century. Jesse Knight, the son of Newel Knight, who was a close friend of the Prophet Joseph Smith, never knew his father, who died at Winter Quarters after leading the first 50 Saints out of Nauvoo. His mother and eight children made their way to Utah and eventually settled in Utah County for a time. Jesse eventually struck it rich in the mining industry. Through a healing of a daughter and the encouragement of a son, he became a major benefactor of BYU, sustaining it financially over a number of years.

Franklin S. Harris was the fourth leader of the university. He was a major driving force from 1921 to 1944. He attracted strong faculty, built the first library and academic buildings on upper campus, and was an extraordinary defender. He was the first president to travel on official business outside the United States, as he was invited on three separate occasions to present a paper in Japan, help settle 60,000 Jews in Russia, and reorganize the Department of Agriculture for the government of Iran. On the trip to Japan, he invited and then received the first foreign students outside North America to attend the university.18 On the trip to Russia he hired a Russian opera star to teach music at BYU.19

Student enrollments increased significantly in the 1920s and the late 1940s following the two world wars. A hiatus was reached during the Great Depression as Church and university finances came under considerable pressure. Throughout the 50-year period, Church officials debated the wisdom of maintaining a system of higher education that included a number of junior colleges plus BYU. On numerous occasions declarations were made indicating that the schools would be closed or turned over to the state governments. Eventually, all of the units were transferred with the exception of BYU and Ricks College.

One incident that reveals again the destiny of Brigham Young University occurred during the depths of the depression. The Church was deeply in debt, and President Heber J. Grant made a trip to New York to meet with the banking community regarding a substantial loan. One of the conditions levied on the Church by the bankers was the shedding of the educational institutions. Following the meeting with the bankers, President Grant called Church leaders in Salt Lake City to inform them of the outcome. Word quickly spread to Provo that BYU would be closed. University archives contain a document that records an interview with Sidney B. Sperry, who had joined the faculty a year or two before the event. The interview recorded the following:

Brother Sperry stated that during the early nineteen thirties the depression became so severe that the Church found it impossible to provide financial support for its many enterprises and that when President Grant went to New York to secure a substantial loan it was necessary for him to agree to give up the various colleges which the Church was supporting, including . . . BYU. Brother Sperry said the announcement made him heartsick because so many people had sacrificed so much to keep the Church colleges going, especially . . . BYU.

Shortly after President Grant made his announcement from New York, Brother Sperry said he awakened in the middle of the night and saw a vision of the Brigham Young University of the future. He saw beautiful modern buildings extending along the entire east bench and saw great concourses of people coming to the University to receive guidance and instruction. In connection with the University he saw a temple and therefore knew that . . . BYU was going to remain a Church institution.

The following morning Brother Sperry said he advised a number of his colleagues that he was certain the Church was not going to give up BYU. When President Grant returned from New York he said all of the Church junior colleges would be turned over to the State but that the Church would continue to operate the Brigham Young University.20

A sequel to the story occurred almost 40 years later when General Authorities were considering two sites for the Provo Temple. One was in front of Y Mountain and the other was in front of Rock Creek Canyon. Before the choice was made, Brother Sperry in a conversation with Cleon Skousen told him that the temple would not be in front of the Y because in his 1930s vision it was further north.21

Following World War II, the university suddenly burgeoned. Can you imagine the challenges faced by President Howard S. McDonald and the faculty and staff when the enrollment increased from 1,500 students in the spring of 1945 to 2,700 in the fall of the same year? In today’s terms, the increase is equivalent to leaving school last April with 30,000 students and returning this month to find 54,000. It would be another four years before an additional building was added to campus.

1951–1971: Growth and Laying a Foundation of Excellence

The modern era for Brigham Young University began during the 1950s. Although I am not familiar with Church finances during the 1950s, the economic boom that followed World War II must have contributed to the well-being of the Church. Tithing contributions in the 1950s and 1960s would still have been modest, compared with today’s figures, if for no other reason than the difference in Church membership. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that the entire second half of the 20th century has been a time of prosperity for the United States and most nations across the earth. It has been an extraordinary time for building the Church and a major university. And that is precisely what happened.

As almost all know, President Ernest L. Wilkinson was a key figure in providing the buildings that Sidney Sperry saw in his dream. The Eyring Science Center was dedicated a short time before President Wilkinson arrived. It was the fifth building on the upper campus. Today there are about 300 buildings. A large proportion of upper campus was built during the 1951–1971 period.

Student enrollment increased from 5,000 students in 1951 to 25,000 in 1971. A commensurate increase in the faculty also occurred. The Wilkinson period continued the recruitment of strong faculty with graduate degrees from major American universities. Student services expanded, student housing mushroomed, and a city was built on Temple Hill. Perhaps the most important event during the Wilkinson administration was the creation of student wards and stakes. This one spark of inspiration has had enormous impact on the entire campus community.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell, speaking as Church commissioner of education at the time of Wilkinson’s resignation, said of him:

This is the man who too often is remembered for the brick-and-mortar growth of this institution when in fact its major thrust has been in the direction of quality and excellence. For this he deserves, I think, much of the credit for what has happened here in the making of a university.22

Speaking of the Wilkinson years after becoming president of the university himself, Elder Dallin H. Oaks stated that BYU “would probably still be struggling around the fringes of community college status had it not been for the remarkable and relentless leadership of the Wilkinson Era.”23

1971–1999: A Time of Excellence

Student enrollment caps came into existence in the mid-1970s. Consequently, physical growth has not been a major factor in university life during the last 25 years. It has allowed the faculty, staff, and administrations to focus on the quality of the offerings as well as the quality of the facilities. President Dallin H. Oaks early in his administration indicated that he had two objectives. The first was to “reinforce the University’s drive for excellence as an academic institution” and the second was to “preserve the distinctive spiritual character and standards of the University.24

All four university presidents since 1971 (Oaks, Holland, Lee, and Bateman) have been charged with the dual responsibility of improving learning in both sacred and secular realms. The expectation is that the university will excel in both. Building testimonies is as much a part of this university as teaching chemistry. Brigham Young University is an integral part of the Church and is expected to play a role in building the kingdom. President Harold B. Lee, in his charge to President Oaks in 1971, stated:

Brigham Young University, led by its president, must never forget its role in bringing to reality the ancient prophecy—to build the mountain of the Lord’s house in the tops of the mountains, so great and so glorious that all nations may come to this place and be constrained to say, “Show us your way that we may walk therein.” (See Isaiah 2:2–3.)25

The Present

Given the incredible history of this institution, where do we stand today? The data indicate that improvement across campus is continuing, and the university, like a flower, is through the budding stage and has begun to show its beauty. The quality and beauty of our programs are capturing attention, and our creative works, as well as our graduates, are making a difference in the world. During the past year a set of institutional objectives were proposed that I would like to share with you. I also invite further discussion. I will use the objectives to illustrate the status of the university. The objectives are not new, as noted earlier. They are implied by BYU’s Mission Statement written in the 1980s and the aims formulated in this decade. In a succinct manner they outline the standards and aspirations set for the university by the board of trustees.

First Institutional Objective

The first objective is concerned with the quality of teaching at Brigham Young University. The objective relates to the four aims and reads as follows:

Educate the minds and spirits of students within a learning environment that

• increases faith in God and the restored gospel,

• is intellectually enlarging,

• is character building,

• and leads to a life of learning and service.

Evidence regarding the quality of teaching at BYU comes in many forms. Two recent surveys are informative with respect to the spiritual, intellectual, and character offerings of the faculty and staff and their impact on students. The first relates to the spiritual offering and was administered at Brigham Young University this past year by Keith Wilson of Religious Education in tandem with two professors from Baylor University. This survey of BYU faculty compared results from similar church-related institutions such as Baylor, Notre Dame, and Boston College. These researchers sought to analyze the influence of religion in an academic setting. One part of the survey assessed the willingness of faculty to share their beliefs in the classroom. One of the questions asked faculty how they felt about expressing certain Christian behaviors on campus.

The behaviors included a willingness to discuss gospel-related questions when those questions are raised by class materials; a willingness to share religious experiences in class; a willingness to lead a class in prayer; and a willingness to bear testimony. The faculty surveyed were asked to respond to each category.

My purpose in using the data today is not to compare the BYU faculty responses with those from other campuses but to look at the extraordinarily high percentage of “yes” answers received. Ninety-nine percent of the BYU faculty surveyed indicated a willingness to answer gospel-related questions raised by class materials. Ninety-two percent of the faculty currently do share or are willing to share personal experiences that have a faith component. More than four out of five are willing to lead the class in prayer. Finally, nine out of 10 faculty members are willing to bear witness of their personal testimony of the restored gospel. The last question was not asked of faculty at the other universities.

I believe these extraordinary responses reflect the faithfulness of the faculty and their commitment to the mission of Brigham Young University. I also believe that the faithfulness of the faculty and staff are reflected in the answers received in a recent survey of our graduates of three years ago. The survey asked BYU graduates from the class of 1995 to express their feelings about a BYU education. The following responses are typical.

I had a science teacher who told us that our purpose at BYU is to figure out our relationship with God. You know, that was his encouragement. And he spent like a whole hour one day talking on it. And as far as even my beliefs as being LDS, I think he was right. The whole BYU experience is there for young people to figure out who they are in relationship with their God. And I think between the wards and between intellectual and social development, I think it can do that if you apply the system right.

I came from a small town where there were only a few members. I’d never been around so many Church members in all my life, and I started to understand the Church in a different way. It’s kind of like having a picture of the Church in my head to take away with me, irrespective of where I go.

My wife and I had our first daughter at BYU, and we decided that we would both continue to go to school. . . . And I don’t know if we could have done that at many other schools, but I remember a couple of examples of how BYU helped us. I guess it positively contributed to our family. We had tried to work out schedules so . . . one of us would watch our daughter while the other one was in class. There were a couple of times when that didn’t work out. One time my wife had to take a quiz, but she had to have our daughter with her. And our daughter was one month old. Our baby started crying during the middle of that Russian quiz. The teacher went over, picked our daughter up, took her outside, and rocked her to sleep. Anyway, this teacher is one of the most world-renowned guys as far as Russian studies go . . . , and I cannot get that out of my mind, thinking that he was taking care of my daughter so my wife could learn. I think he really had the good picture, realizing that family and education don’t have to conflict with each other—they can help each other.

The academic quality of BYU is becoming known outside Provo. Most have seen last Friday’s issue of the U.S. News and World Report that gave the magazine’s annual assessment of the various institutions that make up higher education.26 Like most presidents whose institutions were not ranked first, I believe that the measures used in the report are somewhat inadequate and fail to fully evaluate the quality of an institution. For example, SAT and ACT scores are used to indicate the quality of students entering a university, but GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, and other scores are not used to measure the quality of what happens to the student while at the university. Instead, a qualitative measure known as “academic reputation” provided by administrators at other universities is used. This measure is largely based on the performance of doctoral programs and biases the results against an institution like ours where the number of such programs is limited.

Still, we are pleased with the U.S. News and World Report rankings, both the recent undergraduate rankings and the graduate school rankings, which were reported last March. Both the J. Reuben Clark Law School and the Marriott School are among the top 50 in the United States. The more recent rankings place the Marriott School and the College of Engineering among the nation’s best, with the university at large ranking in the second tier. The overall ranking for BYU among 1,400 institutions of higher education and 228 major research universities jumped significantly from 109th last year to 80th this year, due to marginal improvements in a number of categories. Categories where improvement occurred include the freshman retention rate, the graduation rate, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, and the alumni giving rate.

I first came to the university 32 years ago. At the time there were pockets of excellence on campus. I left BYU in the early 1970s and returned in the late seventies. I noticed a significant improvement as program strength was more widespread. Today every program is one of quality with a strong and productive faculty. Staff quality has improved as additional resources have been made available by the board of trustees. Please do not misinterpret my statements. We have not arrived! There is more to do! But we have vision, commitment, and some additional resources—these are the ingredients that will move us forward.

Second Institutional Objective

The second institutional objective concerns the quality of research performed at BYU. It is my firm opinion that a major university must contribute to the world’s storehouse of knowledge. Also, we believe that the research and creative efforts should be consequential; i.e., they should make a difference. With this in mind, the second objective reads as follows:

Advance truth and knowledge to

• enhance the education of students,

• enrich the quality of life,

• and contribute to a resolution of world problems.

The second objective will be fulfilled if our research involves students and improves their education directly or indirectly; if the creative works in the fine arts and humanities capture or add beauty to this world; if the theoretical research performed in the laboratory provides a clearer understanding of how things work; if the research and creative efforts in the biological, social, health, physical, and engineering sciences and in law and business improve the world in some way.

The deans supplied me with many examples of consequential scholarship by a number of scholars in almost every department. I wish there were time to highlight each one. In the interest of time, I have selected three. The danger is that my selection will stereotype what is meant by important research. Please recognize that my selection is limited.

The first is a study of families with children with disabilities. An interdisciplinary team of BYU faculty from nursing, family sciences, and education have followed a group of families with children with disabilities for the past five years. Their work has been nationally and internationally recognized as an important effort to understand the role of all family members in the significant experience of raising a child with a disability. Data include important insights related to areas of stress as well as areas of family growth, including the power of religious faith.

The second example comes from the clinical psychology faculty, where three professors through a long-term project have produced a reliable and inexpensive test to measure the level of depression in human beings. The questionnaire is currently used by HMOs, government agencies, and state hospital systems covering millions of individuals. The advantages of the instrument, which has been exhaustively tested, include quicker detection—reducing the costs of treatment—and its unique ability to measure the effect of ongoing therapy or medication on the level of illness.

The third example comes from the College of Engineering, where a number of faculty are engaged in pioneering research into configurable computing. One article in Scientific American indicated that the work at BYU places the university among the top five in the world with respect to this type of research.27 Another article demonstrated that configurable computing can speed up some computing applications by a thousand times.28

Third Institutional Objective

The third institutional objective is concerned with the influence that BYU may have in blessing LDS members around the world. The objective reads:

Extend the blessings of learning to members of the Church in all parts of the world.

With 1.5 million 18- to 25-year-olds in the Church and a significant portion who would like to attend BYU, it is obvious that only a tiny fraction can be served on campus. Moreover, the proportion served will decline over time. Some will attend other universities where they can take institute classes. Others will not have the opportunity to study. What are the ways in which this university can reach out and bless them?

First, two steps already have been taken on campus to accommodate more students. The first is the 2,000 FTE student increase in the enrollment cap. Obviously, this is a small step. The second is the visiting student or open enrollment program for the spring and summer semesters. This will allow a few thousand more students to come. For example, the number of visiting students last year, the first year of the program, totaled just over 1,100. This year the number increased to 1,800. For the first time we can tell applicants who are rejected for fall and winter that they can come in the spring and summer. We believe the number of visitors will continue to increase as additional bottleneck courses are added and a summer language institute is initiated.

Other steps taken include the development of an Internet curriculum to complement and eventually replace the pencil and paper courses of Independent Study. One year ago I indicated that BYU had 20 courses on-line. The number today is 117. Of this number, approximately 20 are high school courses. For some countries the high school courses are more critical than the college materials. During the next three or four years another 200 or more courses will be added. The best part of the Internet course development is that teams of faculty from various departments are working on the large GE courses. The first priority is to develop high-quality course materials for on-campus students. The HEPE 129 course designed last year was the first of this type with 16 faculty and 40 students collaborating to build the finest course developed in America in 1998. It received the Helen Williams Award as a result. A family history course produced by Susan Easton Black recently received the national UCEA award (University Continuing Education Association) for one of the best courses designed in 1999. A panel of judges carefully reviewed a large number of courses before giving the award.

As some faculty know, a new bachelor of general studies has been approved by the appropriate faculty committees. This degree replaces the bachelor of independent study program. With the appropriate number of residence hours, students who leave the university without graduating can complete a degree over the Internet. Of the 300,000 alumni, approximately 150,000 did not graduate. Continuing Education personnel recently stratified the nongraduates by the number of hours completed on campus. There were more than 600 former students with more than 140 hours of credit but no degree. The first set of letters inviting alumni to finish were sent to them. The second letter of invitation will go to those with 120 hours or more, and so on. The program was announced a few months ago, and there are now 713 active registrants in the new BGS program and 1,000 who have applied.

The usual scenario one thinks of when considering instruction over the Internet is a student at home taking a course. A more important option in distant places is for a group of students taking courses together under the direction of a mentor. Currently the Church Educational System is conducting experiments with pilot programs in Brazil and Mexico. One can think of circumstances where BYU students could assist through a service/learning internship. This was tried in Brazil and Mexico during the summer with approximately four students in each country. We are evaluating their experience presently.

The foreign groups may take courses not to complete a degree but to obtain a set of skills that will enable them to improve their employability. Or using the courseware may lead to entrance to a university in their country. Recently I met with the senior executives of one of the largest multinational corporations in the world. They are in the midst of major expansion plans in Central and South America. I asked the executives if they would be interested in hiring natives in those countries who had spent the last two years in a highly disciplined program where they arose every morning at 6:30, studied written materials for two hours, spent 10–12 hours per day meeting people and trying to explain their beliefs, learned to handle rejection, had developed strong oral communication skills, and were totally honest in their dealings. Moreover, they were now in a program learning English as a second language and becoming proficient in the use of the computer. The first response was one of disbelief. The second was a commitment to work with Church employment people in those countries to hire returned missionaries.

There are many ways in which Brigham Young University can extend the blessings of learning across the world. Technology is opening the door for high-quality instruction and interaction that will cut across geographical boundaries and cultures.

Fourth Institutional Objective

The final objective relates to nonmembers. The objective is:

Develop friends for the university and the Church.

Friends of the faculty and staff quickly learn about the quality of the university. Research ties between BYU faculty and faculty of other institutions are important in the development of friends in the academic community. Collaboration on research and conferences is much easier today because of improvements in communications. National and international conferences also allow the staff to present papers on their work at BYU. Again, their counterparts learn about innovations at BYU. A number of BYU administrative staff are considered leaders in their areas.

For many years BYU’s performing groups have been ambassadors for the Church and the university. Perhaps you saw the Church News article last Saturday entitled “Goodwill Ambassadors.”29 The article described the quality and breadth of our programs. So far, in 1999, 644 BYU students have presented 336 concerts in 160 cities in 13 countries. Approximately 330,000 people watched the live performances, and another 35.5 million saw them on television.

BYU’s ambassadorial program brings foreign ambassadors to campus at a rate of two or three per semester. They speak to an assemblage in the Kennedy Center and meet students from their country as well as returned missionaries who served there. They meet with members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. They see this magnificent campus and learn about us as a people.

These are the four objectives. Before proceeding to the capital campaign, may I suggest a word of caution. The key focus must be the quality of on-campus education. If our attention is diverted away from the first and second objectives to the third and fourth, the foundation of excellence will be eroded and the university will fail to reach its potential. It is important to understand that the third and fourth objectives will be realized if we are successful in achieving the first two. If the light on campus becomes a “standard for the nations,” then the outside world will be attracted to us. The first two objectives involve everyone in one way or another and should occupy a very large fraction of our time. In contrast, the third and fourth objectives are derivatives, and only a few people will be directly involved.

The Capital Campaign

The capital campaign was initiated in September 1993 by President Lee. The goal was $237 million for a variety of purposes: endowment, buildings, scholarships, faculty support, and programs. A program review in 1996 raised the target to $250 million. Although the initial plans contemplated completion in August of 2000, the successful efforts to date warrant a celebration and early termination per President Gordon B. Hinckley’s challenge in April 1996. He challenged those present at the public announcement to work hard and complete the campaign in less than four years. The following is a status report on the campaign.

The material that appears in the table below lists the amount collected through July 31, 1999. Through the end of July, a total of $313 million had been raised. Although I do not have a full accounting for the first three weeks of August, I am aware of another $10 million received this month. The totals received through July for the various categories are:

University and College Endowment $ 33.2
Scholarships and Grants $ 55.4
Learning Enhancement $ 91.2
Buildings $ 17.1
Programs $ 38.0
Lighting the Way—Unrestricted $ 24.4
Lighting the Way—Restriction Pending $ 28.2
Other Program Funds Raised Outside Goals $ 16.4

The unrestricted funds will be used to increase the university endowment that can then be used to fill in the gaps and support programs across campus. For example, 11 professorships were awarded last year. These came from earnings off the endowment. Although we have announced only two new professorships today, we are working on the possibility of future announcements. It is expected that funds will be available to support a limited number of research proposals based on merit that tie to the institutional objectives. ORCA grants to support student research projects may also be expanded. The deans have indicated in early August meetings a number of needs in the various colleges. We believe that some funds will be available for those purposes.

It is important to understand that all funds received by the university during the campaign are sacred and come under the jurisdiction of the board of trustees. Budgets are being prepared for the year 2000 that will include proposed expenditures of campaign funds in order for the board to review and approve. Obviously, a significant portion of the funds have been restricted by the donors for certain purposes. We must honor their wishes as well.

Although we will declare victory at a September 24 celebration in the Marriott Center with President Hinckley present, the campaign will officially close on December 31, 1999. The total amount raised by that time is expected to be in the neighborhood of $375 million. Moreover, we have identified additional needs that were not in the current campaign. One need is a replacement building for the Joseph F. Smith Family Living Center, which is proving costly to maintain. The board has approved a plan to raise funds for this purpose.

Fund-raising will not end in December but will transition to new objectives. More than 145,000 people contributed to the current campaign. Support has been widespread and generous. I believe there are two keys to successful fund-raising at Brigham Young University. The first is an understanding on the part of Church members that BYU is an integral part of the Church and is faithful in its responsibility to help build the kingdom. The second is the quality of our programs.

The Future: World-Class, Worldwide

With an extraordinary faculty, highly qualified students, resources from the board, and support from private donations to help us improve, the small seed planted in 1875 is maturing into a beautiful, white tree—one whose fruit is delicious to the taste, one that will shine as a standard for the nations because of its dual nature. For the first time I see a world-class, worldwide university as a reality. We have not arrived! In this lifetime we will never be fully satisfied. There is still much work to be done! But the quality is coming and the influence is spreading.

In closing, may I share a recent experience. A short time ago I got a call from Elder Holland indicating that he had just received an assignment to accompany a friend of the First Presidency on a visit to BYU. The individual in question is a well-known leader in Asia and heads one of the largest Muslim groups in the world—a group totaling 40 million members. The leader had learned about BYU’s first translation of an Islamic work: The Incoherence of the Philosophers by Al-Ghazali. During the visit he indicated that the book had a profound influence on him as a young man. He was pleased with the translation, but even more important he appreciated the efforts of Professor Daniel Peterson and the scholars working with him to produce a series of Islamic classics in a Western language. He clearly understood the potential cultural bridge that is being built between two worlds—Islam and the West.

Accompanying the leader was a visiting professor at Harvard and a prominent Asian businessman. Following a luncheon and a campus tour, both expressed surprise at the beauty, size, and cleanliness of the campus. They were not aware that BYU is the largest private university in the United States, that students come from each state in the Union and from more than 100 foreign countries. They were amazed to learn that more than 60 languages are taught on campus and more than 80 are spoken. Discussions were held regarding the possibility of further visits, student exchanges, and the recruiting of BYU students for employment.

As the visitors left, I thought how important BYU is as a window on the Church. The glass is not dark but clear and allows viewers to see the values and truths of the restored gospel. Through this window nonmembers feel the importance of education to Church members. They see the youth of the Church, note their strength, and observe the peace within them. The veil that separates is thin when they meet with faculty, discern their cultural sensitivities, and sense the quality of their work and thought.

How grateful I am for Brigham Young University, for the assemblage of faculty, staff, and students gathered here. I appreciate even more deeply the special role played by BYU in addition to its fundamental purpose of educating young people. It is an integral part of the kingdom of God on earth. It is an important arm of the Church in helping the world come to an understanding of who the LDS people are and of the values and light that we treasure.


1. In Alma P. Burton, Karl G. Maeser: Mormon Educator (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1953), 26.

2. Ernest L. Wilkinson and W. Cleon Skousen, Brigham Young University: A School of Destiny (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1976), 46–47.

3. Ibid., 46.

4. Ibid., 47; text modernized.

5. Ibid., 48.

6. Ibid., 49.

7. Ibid., 49.

8. Ibid., 118–19.

9. Ibid., 83.

10. Leonard J. Arrington, ed., The Presidents of the Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1986), 109.

11. Wilkinson and Skousen, School of Destiny, 84–85.

12. Ibid., 164–65.

13. Ibid., 135; see also 755.

14. Ibid., 130.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid., 190–91.

17. Ibid., 193.

18. Ibid., 254.

19. Ibid., 282.

20. “Vision of Dr. Sidney B. Sperry,” A Memorandum by W. Cleon Skousen, September 24, 1975, Brigham Young University Archives, 1.

21. Ibid., 2.

22. Wilkinson and Skousen, School of Destiny, 759.

23. Ibid.

24. Ibid., 779.

25. Harold B. Lee, “Installation of and Charge to the President,” Addresses Delivered at the Inauguration of Dallin Harris Oaks, 12 November 1971, 12.

26. See “Best Colleges 2000,” U.S. News and World Report 127, no. 8 (30 August 1999): 84–105.

27. See John Villasenor and William H. Mangione-Smith, “Configurable Computing,” Scientific American, June 1997, 66–71.

28. See Jean Vuillemin, Patrice Bertin, Didier Roncin, Mark Shand, Hervé Touati, and Philippe Boucard, “Programmable Active Memories: Reconfigurable Systems Come of Age,” IEEE Transactions on VLSI Systems 4, no. 1 (March 1996): 56–69.

29. See “Goodwill Ambassadors,” Church News, 21 August 1999, 8–10.

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