Merrill J. Bateman
Merrill Joseph Bateman was born June 19, 1936, in Lehi, Utah, but moved with his family to American Fork, Utah, when he was in third grade. He attended American Fork High School and there met his sweetheart, Marilyn Scholes. He then served as a missionary in Great Britain.
Merrill and Marilyn Scholes were married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1959. They supported one another through nineteen moves in their first twenty years of marriage. They have seven children, who have given them a legacy of many grandchildren.
Merrill J. Bateman graduated from the University of Utah in 1960 with a degree in economics and then from MIT in 1965 as a Danforth fellow and Woodrow Wilson fellow with a doctorate in economics. His academic career included lecturing at the University of Ghana in 1963 and teaching as an assistant professor at the Air Force Academy from 1964 to 1967. His time at Brigham Young University began in 1967 as an assistant professor. He later became a professor, publishing several articles on the subject of economics, and eventually served as dean of BYU’s School of Management from 1975 to 1979.
For several years Bateman headed consulting and capital management companies. He was also an executive with the Mars candy company, both in the United States and in England, where he and his family lived for a while. His involvement in the cocoa business brought him to West Africa many times. During trips to Ghana and Nigeria, he visited with people who had found literature from the Church and wanted to be baptized, and he helped lay the groundwork for the establishement of the Church in those countries.
Church service continued to take an international role for Merrill J. Bateman. Having served as a bishop, high councilor in seven stakes around the world, stake president, and regional representative, he was called in 1992 to the Second Quorum of the Seventy and was assigned to preside over the Asia North Area. In 1994 he accepted the call to be the Presiding Bishop of the Church, and in 1996 he returned to Brigham Young University as its eleventh president.
During the seven years that President Bateman led BYU, the university saw significant growth. Guiding the institution into the new millennium, President Bateman spoke often of living up to BYU’s potential as seen by visionaries in its history. The Lighting the Way campaign raised important funds for the school, and the mentored learning program increased emphasis on undergraduate research and one-on-one work with faculty. Bateman left BYU to be a member of the Presidency of the Seventy from 2003 to 2007, and then, as an emeritus Seventy, he presided over the Provo Utah Temple from 2007 to 2010.
When the 9/11 attacks occurred, President Bateman gathered BYU students in the Marriott Center and gave a brief message in which he emphasized the hope for peace that the “good news” of the gospel of Jesus Christ brings. He also pleaded with students that they treat everyone with respect and compassion. Those messages are characteristic of his testimony and service.