Full Text
April 05, 1983
Tanner Building Dedication
Dedication of the N. Eldon
Tanner Building

Jeffrey R. Holland & Gordon B. Hinckley
The N. Eldon Tanner Building at Brigham Young University was dedicated on 5 April 1983.

Remarks by Jeffrey R. Holland, President of Brigham Young University

Perhaps no one but Sister Tanner herself can fully appreciate what this dedicatory service means to me personally. Just slightly more than twenty years ago I, with other British missionaries, waited anxiously in the new Hyde Park Chapel on London’s Exhibition Road to meet the newly appointed president of the West European Mission. Little did I know that morning what experience I was to have with President and Sister N. Eldon Tanner as they resided at Leatherhead in the lovely Surrey countryside. Little did I know how they would continue to love and help me long after I had returned home from my mission and they from theirs. I have no doubt that many of the responsibilities that have come in those two decades since my mission have come with President Tanner’s special patience and kindness. Sister Tanner, thank you for that and all else you, your husband, and your daughters mean to me personally.

Some have suggested that the N. Eldon Tanner Building is unique because of its glass-roofed atrium that extends the full height of the building and collects and disperses natural light and heat. That is an extraordinary feature.

Some have suggested that the N. Eldon Tanner Building is unique because of its design—forthright and functional and bold. That is a commanding quality.

Some have suggested that the N. Eldon Tanner Building is unique because of its pleasantly arrayed appointments—furnishings of fabric and metal and wood. They are very attractive.

But other buildings have atria, some many stories higher than ours. Other buildings are forthright and functional in design on a grander scale than ours. And surely other buildings are more elegantly and lavishly appointed than ours.

All of which leads me to suggest, brothers and sisters, that the N. Eldon Tanner Building is unique because it is the N. Eldon Tanner Building and because the Rockville white granite which characterizes it is so much like the man himself.

President Tanner once said in a general conference,

We have heard sermons and exhortations upon honesty, trust, righteousness, dependability, truthfulness, kindness, justice, mercy, love, fidelity, and many other principles of right living.

When one has integrated all of these attributes within his being, when they become the moving force of all his thoughts, actions, and desires, then he may be said to possess integrity. [“Integrity,” Ensign, May 1977, p. 14]

To those who suggest that one must compromise one’s values to succeed in the hard-nosed world of business, I commend the name of N. Eldon Tanner.

To those who say that “connections” are more important than commitment, I commend the name of N. Eldon Tanner.

To those who say that they lack the time for family and profession and Church and community, I commend the name of N. Eldon Tanner.

As President Ronald Reagan wrote at the time of President Tanner’s passing,

Through his life, President Tanner has served in many capacities with devotion and dedication. His love of God and his fellowman were the guiding forces in his endeavors. All who knew him were richer for the experience, and we are all the poorer for his loss. After a lifetime of caring for others, N. Eldon Tanner is now in the loving care of our Heavenly Father.

As a university we are grateful to leave this earthly memorial to him, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Remarks by William G. Dyer, Dean of the School of Management

As you can imagine, today is a glorious day for the School of Management. It proves that dreams do, in fact, come true.

I have learned a few things about building a multimillion-dollar building these past four years. First, I have learned again that you cannot complete a project like this without the help of a great many people. I would like to recognize just a few of the literally thousands of people who have contributed funds, labor, time, or help in the planning or construction or finalizing of this building, which is the first academic building on this campus to be constructed entirely by donations.

Special credit should be given to the architect, Frank Ferguson, and the builder, Byron Paulson, and their staffs.

May I also mention the School of Management’s National Advisory Council and Douglas Driggs, the fund-raising chairman of that council. Brother Driggs, at the age of seventy-five, traveled across the country and gathered $3.5 million in pledges from nearly five hundred donors. NAC members, past and present, have contributed over $7 million to this building. We recognize with appreciation the contributions of all donors to the Tanner Building.

I would also like to honor the work of Don Nelson and the Development Office—now the LDS Foundation—for their significant work in fund raising.

We have had great support and action from BYU administration—including President Dallin Oaks, our present administration, and former deans Weldon Taylor and Merrill Bateman.

Dr. Ray Andrus has been a careful and diligent representative of the faculty interests.

And I would like to express current appreciation to Fred Schwendiman and the whole BYU building, construction, and support staff, and invite you all to come and look at that building and the marvelous things that have been done.

I have also learned that the response people have to a building is much like the response to an individual. People often, wrongly, judge the inner person by the external appearance, and I have found that a similar condition occurs in architecture. When the Tanner Building was under construction, I received a great deal of comment from faculty, friends, and students who did not understand the vision of the simple strength of the external building. Now that the building is completed and the inner beauty is unfolded, most observers have seen the total grandeur of the building, and comments now are those of appreciation for the marvelous features of the total structure. Like a person, a building is also to be appreciated when the inner core is understood. We feel the building captures the essence of President Tanner: on the outside—strong, firm, filled with integrity (no one would ever call the Tanner Building “cute” ) and on the inside—filled with light, beautiful, able to serve many people.

But a building, especially on this campus, must be more than a meeting place of students and faculty. In our college the building must be the spawning ground for the next generations of leaders of the Church and society.

Unlike those of many other disciplines, the message and mission of the BYU School of Management have to be more than the generally held principles in the professional field. In some academic areas, BYU does not offer anything additional to the basic concepts of its field. We do not have a Mormon mathematics, a priesthood physics, or a latter-day chemistry or accounting. But in some areas, the discipline as presented at BYU does offer something unique to the world. This unique quality exists in the field of the family and also in the area of management. The Lord has revealed some great things about organizations and how people should manage others in their organizations. In some cases the secular knowledge comes close to revealed truth, and in other areas what man has learned is still far from inspired insight. Let me give you a few illustrations.

Right now in the management and organization literature, power is a dominant theme. Much of the popular writing on power emphasizes the egocentric, confrontive nature of the power process. We read such titles as, “Power: How to Get it—How to Use it,” “Winning through Intimidation,” “Looking Out for No. 1.” Contrast that orientation with these words from the Lord in D&C 121:

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned. [D&C 121:41]

Michael Maccoby in his book The Gamesman, a best-selling study of corporate leadership, describes the corporate leader as one who is in management for the excitement of winning the business game but has little feeling for people. Maccoby gathered data from 250 executives about the qualities they thought were very important for a manger to have to be successful. Ninety-one percent said the ability to take the initiative was important; 86 percent said self-confidence; 88 percent, pride in performance; 81 percent, open-mindedness. But only 9 percent felt idealism was important; 13 percent, generosity; and 18 percent, compassion. Maccoby says, “The new industrial leader can recognize that his work develops his head but not his heart.” How different is the Savior’s formula for success! He said, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11), or, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).

Modern management is now learning about collaboration and team building—allowing everyone the possibility of participating. But listen to these revelations given a hundred and fifty years ago. This is the counsel given to the Church as one of the processes needed in getting organized:

Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege. [D&C 88:122]


Every decision made by either of these quorums must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions. [D&C 107:27]

A more modern example: Dr. Wayne Boss, a member of the Church and faculty member at the University of Colorado, was intrigued by the phenomenon he saw in most organizations. A manager would bring his unit together, and they would set goals and attempt to get commitment to high performance; but in just a few months performance almost always slipped. Brother Boss wondered if a Church practice, the Personal Priesthood Interview, would help. He was able in organizations with which he consulted to do research with sixteen work groups. All met to set high goals. Following these meetings, half the managers were asked to hold regular interviews with their people in a process Boss creatively called the PMI—the Personal Management Interview. The other half were left to follow their ordinary follow-up procedures. The evidence was startling. Every group that did not hold the PMI experienced a sharp drop-off in performance. But every group that conducted the PMI continued in the high level of performance—and this level continued for the eighteen months that Boss gathered data. It is a little sad that some of our business organizations, following the process revealed by a prophet, enjoy the blessings of high performance while some of our own wards and stakes do not conduct a regular, good Personal Priesthood Interview and do not realize the benefits.

Many more illustrations could be given to show that the Lord has revealed much that pertains to managing organizations. I believe President Tanner would expect that from a building bearing his name the great truths of management, both revealed and discovered, should be combined and presented to the world for the blessing of all people.

Remarks by Ruth Tanner Walker, daughter of President N. Eldon Tanner

I am grateful to have been so closely associated with such a noble man as my father. I pray that I may be able to do justice to him today. He fought continually for the kingdom of God and righteousness, and all else was added unto him, even this beautiful building which stands to honor him and remind others of his example.

I am grateful that many others share my love and respect for this great man whose heights were not obtained by sudden flight, for while his companions slept he was toiling upward in the night.

He was not always a General Authority. He was raised a farm boy with a love for the Lord and a strong desire to serve him the best he could. He actually did spend many nights traveling more than two thousand miles in order to fill Church responsibilities the next day. Our family is overwhelmed by the honor that has been shown to our beloved patriarch in building this beautiful edifice to his memory. There have been much love, respect, work, and generous giving in order to make this building possible. Some of the donors could have used their means to build monuments to themselves, but they have chosen instead to honor N. Eldon Tanner. We wish to acknowledge and thank them sincerely.

The architects, builders, and gardeners have given their unusual talents and masterful efforts to make such a magnificent monument. How like this building my father’s life was! As his first home was formed in the side of a hill, so this structure that we are dedicating today was built into a hill. Both grew straight and tall, firm and strong, with unpretentious majesty. There is an inner light in each that provides warmth and guidance to others as they strive to achieve. Many interesting qualities and characteristics are chambered within. The strong inner structure around the atrium reminds me of the impeccable honesty and the infinite integrity of the man. As this building forms a bridge between the lower and upper campus, so President Tanner often formed a bridge between industry and government, between Church and city, and between individual people. The building provides a shelter and beacon to the young, a place where they can learn and grow. So it was with father. His greatest joy was to help others to become educated, to grow, and to reach their full potential.

As this building is being dedicated to the work of the Lord, so my father’s life was dedicated. In 1960 when he was called to serve as an Assistant to the Twelve, he, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, pledged, “I shall do my best and to prepare to dedicate my life and my best to the work of the Lord.” This statement has proven to be the hallmark of his life. At his funeral President Kimball said, “No man has kept his covenant with greater sincerity and integrity.”

As a result, I believe that N. Eldon Tanner’s life fulfills the answer to Alex Petersen’s prayer, “O Lord, help us to be masters of ourselves so that we may be the servant of others.”

May those who work in and study and use this building be ever cognizant of the statement in the foyer, “Service is the rent we pay for living in this world of ours,” which is symbolic of the life of N. Eldon Tanner. I leave the testimony with you that the man we honor today was a loving father and a true servant of the Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Address and Dedicatory Prayer by President Gordon B. Hinckley

Sister Tanner and members of your wonderful family, and all who are gathered here, I would like to say just a few simple words concerning a man of great and simple virtues.

John Ruskin once said:

Education does not mean teaching people what they do not know. It means teaching them to behave as they do not behave. It is not teaching the youth the shapes of letters and the tricks of numbers, and then leaving them to turn their arithmetic to roguery and their literature to lust. It means, on the contrary, training them into the perfect exercise and kingly continence of their bodies and souls. It is a painful, continual, and difficult work to be done by kindness, by watching, by warning, by precept, and by praise, but above all—by example. [The Roycrofters, Elbert Hubbard’s Scrapbook (New York: Wm. H. Wise, 1923), p. 17]

President N. Eldon Tanner taught many students through the years. He not only taught effectively the prescribed course, but, more importantly, he taught them to behave as they should behave. To use Ruskin’s words, he taught “by kindness, by watching, by warning, by precept, and by praise, but above all—by example.”

I never knew him in Canada. I am not a product of the small one-room school in which he first taught. I first became acquainted with his name when he secured from a Protestant minister permission to publish a talk which the minister had given under the title, “What We Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints.” That talk was a great tribute to the LDS people. The exposure to our people, which led to this glowing compliment, was largely an exposure to N. Eldon Tanner, the man whom the minister best knew.

I did not know him in the days of his service in the Alberta legislature, nor did I know him in the days when he occupied a position of prominence in the Alberta government and a later responsibility of great consequence as an industrial leader in Canada. I first met him when he was called to become a General Authority of the Church, when, without hesitation, he left the promise of tremendous financial rewards to become an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve. He later became a member of the Council of the Twelve, and then, as you know, for nineteen years he served as a counselor in the First Presidency, standing at the side of four presidents of the Church.

In all of those years of his General Authority service, I came to know him well. I met with him at least once a week in the meetings of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve. I served with him on various committees and boards of directors. And more recently, until the time of his death last November, I served with him in the First Presidency of the Church as a counselor to President Kimball.

I should like to tell you of some of the things I learned from him. I do so because to me he was a great teacher, particularly by the power of his example. I hope that in mentioning some of the things that I have learned from him, I may help you who presently are involved in a great program of learning, now concentrating all of your energies, all of your time, and most of your resources in the pursuit of education. These then are some of the things I have learned from this great leader.

1. A man or woman can rise above humble beginnings and a stultifying environment if he or she has the will to work. It is not so much our native capacity that determines our rise in life as it is our labor. I have read his story. I have listened to him tell it. Life on a farm in Alberta, where the summers are short and the winters are long and bitter, is at best an exercise in hard, unrelenting work. In that part of the world the rule of the harvest is inexorable—“As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” There is no reaping without sowing. There is no accomplishment without preparation. There can be no parameters around the hours to be spent, no given number of holidays to be observed, no running away from overtime. It is work, work, work. With intelligence? Yes. With objectives? Yes. With vision? Yes. But above all else, hard work. He saw schoolteaching as the key to breaking the cycle of the farm drudgery in which he grew up. He made the effort. He not only qualified himself to be a schoolteacher, but he reached out to other opportunities to improve his lot and increase the comforts of his family. His was a tremendous odyssey from that Alberta farm to a station in life where he was at home with kings and became a companion to prophets.

2. Establish priorities. Put first things first. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). He never compromised on his loyalty to the Lord. He put the Lord’s work first in his life. His early Church responsibilities were simple, but he filled them with devotion and total commitment. He rose step by step to the highest levels of responsibility in the Church and the management of its very complex and widely diversified interests. In the course of that journey he served also as a leader in governmental and business affairs. Unhesitatingly he has told one inquirer after another who has asked him about keys to success: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

3. Principle goes hand-in-hand with prosperity. No lasting success can be built on a foundation of falsehood or pretense. One need never be ashamed of his faith or of his obedience to the principles of the gospel he has espoused. Much has been said of President Tanner’s integrity, and deservedly so. A notable element in that integrity was his recognition of accountability. Each of us is accountable to God for what we do with our lives. Each is accountable to God for what we say and profess. Each must be accountable to associates, to family, and particularly to oneself. A man must live with himself, and he cannot do so unless he lives honestly. There may come short-term gains out of shortcuts. But President Tanner knew and exemplified the rule that principles of honor, honesty, and integrity eventually will be recognized and will lead to success and prosperity.

4. Get the facts before you judge. There is too much of a tendency in all of us to leap to quick conclusions. I saw the opposite in him. He worked on the principle, “If you don’t get the facts, the facts will get you.” He said to me more than once, “I don’t want you to say anything to me just to please me or because it’s the kind of thing you think I would like to hear. I would like the facts regardless of the implications that flow there from.” During the years I knew him, his was a terrifying responsibility of judgment. He constantly had to make judgments that could affect the lives of people, that could affect their fortunes, that could affect the good name and the great mission of the Church. He wanted the facts. He delayed judgment until he had them. And then he moved decisively on the basis of those facts.

5. Take time to listen. He was a busy man with a demanding and unforgiving agenda before him constantly. But when you sat down across the desk from him, he never gave you the feeling that he wanted to get you out so that he could get on to the next matter. He took time to listen.

You young people who today have your eyes set on the stars of future responsibility, may I suggest to you that you cultivate the great art of listening.

When there were differences between people with whom he had to deal, he would bring them together, listen to each, let them talk out their misunderstandings before one another. The ice would gradually melt, understanding would grow, rancor would fade, problems would diminish, appreciation would come.

When he first interviewed Sister LaRue Sneff, who became his personal secretary and served him ably for many years, he told her, “I would like everyone who comes into my office to go out feeling better than when he came in.” All of us who knew him had that experience. That takes time, but it yields tremendous dividends.

6. People are sensitive; handle them with care. I suppose all of you have heard the story of when he was an Aaronic Priesthood adviser in the days of the Depression in western Canada. He discovered that some of the boys were not attending their meetings because they did not have proper clothes to wear and were embarrassed. He told them he would come in his overalls if they would come in theirs. They came, and their lives were blessed because of his sensitivity to their circumstances.

It became necessary in the course of his career to terminate some people from employment for various reasons. But he always spent the time to talk and explain, to give direction and the kind of help that could lead to more suitable employment. They left without a job, but they also left without rancor or bitterness. And they left knowing they had a friend who would help and not abandon them.

7. You cannot do it all alone. Each of us must work as part of a team. He understood in a remarkable way the genius of delegation. His program was to (1) select the best individual you can find, (2) define the parameters of his responsibility, and (3) leave him alone to get it done. There was never henpecking on the part of President Tanner. He recognized that people do different things in different ways. He believed in training and system. But he also believed in the tremendous value of allowing enough room for individual initiative.

8. “Look to God, and live.” He, better than most, recognized the finite wisdom of men, even the finite wisdom of the ablest. He knew there was a source of power and direction beyond his natural ability to which he could go for strength and inspiration. I have heard him pray. His language was never flowery. It was simple and straightforward, an appeal to his Father in Heaven which came from the heart and which was spoken with conviction and in faith. I give you my witness and testimony that inspiration came to this great and humble man whom we all loved and whom we honor this day. God help each of us to draw from his life the great lessons he exemplified, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Now, brothers and sisters, if you will join in prayer, we will dedicate the N. Eldon Tanner Building.

Dedicatory Prayer—N. Eldon Tanner Building

Our beloved Father in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.

We are grateful as we meet together this day to dedicate the N. Eldon Tanner Building on the Brigham Young University campus.

We thank Thee for this great institution, this university which carries as its motto those words of revealed truth, “The glory of God is intelligence.”

We thank Thee for this addition to this magnificent campus. It is a structure of significant beauty and of great utility, which at this time will house the School of Management.

We thank Thee for those who have given generously of their means to make this building possible. May they, over the years, derive satisfaction from the knowledge that in erecting this structure they have contributed to a great cause, and that their contributions have become a rewarding investment which will yield generous dividends in the lives of men and women for generations yet to come.

As we dedicate this building, we honor the man whose name it bears. Nathan Eldon Tanner was our friend and associate, and in a much larger measure he was the friend of all who use this campus and of all who are blessed by this institution. Each of us has been and will continue to be the beneficiary of his quick perception, his tremendous foresight, and his exceptional wisdom. He served as a vice-chairman of the Board of Trustees for almost a score of years. In this capacity he was a leader in formulating those policies which govern this great institution and which have moved it forward to its present level of earned recognition in the academic world.

Now, our beloved Father in Heaven, acting in the authority of the holy priesthood in us vested, and with authorization from and in behalf of the Board of Trustees, we dedicate the N. Eldon Tanner Building on the campus of Brigham Young University. We dedicate it to Thee, since this is the university of Thy Church which carries the name of Thy beloved Son. We ask that Thou wilt accept it and smile with favor upon it. May Thy Spirit be felt in its halls of learning. May all who come here to learn be motivated to achievement by a faculty of trained and inspiring men and women. May eager minds be quickened and stimulated not alone to learn the skills which will qualify them to fill significant responsibilities in the world of commerce, but also to resolve to act always with honesty and integrity. These virtues were the hallmark of the man whose name this building bears. May the influence of his good life be felt by all who study here. May there grow a legend, founded in truth and nurtured with fact, the legend of a man whose principles were unimpeachable and whose industry was unexcelled.

May the building and its facilities be maintained with that cleanliness and order which were characteristic of his life. May they serve the purposes for which they have been created for so long as they are so utilized.

Father, we thank Thee for the obligations Thou has placed upon Thy people to train their minds, their hands, and also their hearts. As scholars go forth from the classrooms of this structure to their places in the world, may they carry with them those qualities of the spirit which by their very expression will identify them as the products of this university among all whose lives they will touch.

Please accept of our gratitude. Grant our petitions, and help us to live worthy of Thy blessings, we humbly pray as we rededicate our lives to Thy great purposes, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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