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Mt. Everest Found: What BYU and Undergraduate Education Can Do For Each Other

Rex E. Lee

President of Brigham Young University August 27, 1990 • University Conference

Over the past fourteen months, I have given more official speeches, by a substantial margin, than at any other comparable period in my life. In many respects, this one is in a class by itself, certainly in terms of intrinsic importance to the university. This is the occasion on which we, the stewards of the only four-year university sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, jointly survey our past stewardship and look into our future and that of our school. It is a time when we ask ourselves What should we be doing? How well have we done it? And How can we do it better in the future?

This has been a good year for us, thanks to the efforts of every one of you. During the course of the year, we have lost some good people and others have joined us. While time does not permit me to acknowledge and welcome all of those, let me select just two as representative of all. First, Paul Thompson. He will be the last president of Weber State College and the first president of Weber State University, and he will be outstanding in both of those jobs. As much as I hate to see him and Carolyn go, I really think he was the ideal choice. We thank him for his service here and look forward to a new colleague relationship with him over the coming years. Second, I think that most of you have met R. J. Snow, the newest member of our president’s council, vice president in charge of Student Life. We welcome R. J. and Marilyn, both in their own behalf and also as representatives of all others who have joined us within the last year.

A year ago I used a self-interview format that I quite enjoyed and may use again. Today, because of the theme that I want to stress, I will use another format, but I will begin by answering a question that I know is on most of your minds. It concerns my health. I am grateful that so many of my friends and colleagues not only care about my physical well-being but also pray for it and have given so much oral encouragement. Your reactions to the announcement that I made last February have been among the most deeply touching and gratifying experiences of my life. They have added a new dimension to Janet’s and my lives and a new understanding of how the soul of one of our Heavenly Father’s children can be enlarged and enriched by the kindnesses and prayers of others of his children. I am convinced that they have also contributed significantly to my present state of health.

My earlier cancer, a virulent, fast-acting form of lymphoma whose return would be very dangerous, is still in remission. As most of you know, the type that I now have is a chronic, long-lasting lymphoma that manifests itself principally in the skin. It cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. Since early April, I have been taking injections three times a week of a drug called Interferon, whose use for this type of cancer is comparatively recent. Sometimes Janet gives me the injections, and sometimes I give them to myself; if any of you would like a turn, just come by our house any Monday, Wednesday, or Friday evening.

It would seem, particularly from what appears on my skin, that the Interferon is having its intended effects on my cancer. It is also having some side effects. My doctors told me at the beginning that the most common side effects are flulike symptoms. Some of those, including fevers and chills, I have not had except in a minor degree for a couple of months, and their absence is welcome. The one symptom that remains with me much of the time—though it varies in intensity and the variations are quite unpredictable—is that I tend to tire more easily.

I want to discuss with you one consequence of the increased fatigue that can be a cause of concern for the observer. Since many of you may be observers, I want you to know what is happening. On occasion, over the past couple of months, the fatigue has aggravated a facial muscle jerk condition (a condition that I have had for thirty years) to such an extent that for a time, a few hours or so, my speech is affected. If this ever happens, please don’t be alarmed nor embarrassed for me. It is always temporary and will pass; indeed, it would appear that there is some medication that can counteract it. In any event, the occasional aggravation of this condition has not really affected the performance of my normal activities. Most important, from your standpoint, it has not impeded my ability to carry out my duties as your president, which I continue to enjoy very much. I like this job, I like working with each one of you, and I want to fill out my normal term, whatever that is. As best as I can determine, it should last at least as long as Ty Detmer and Shawn Bradley are enrolled here.

The examples I will use in support of my remarks this morning are more sharply focused on the faculty than on those who serve in a support capacity. The reason is that the theme I want to develop lends itself to faculty-related examples. I want to begin, however, by expressing on behalf of myself and all of the faculty how grateful we are for the support services that we receive at this university. One of the things that I am going to talk about today is achieving excellence, being the best. In at least one respect, I can state that we are now the best in the country, and that is in the area of our support services. I have visited a lot of college and university campuses. I have never seen one that is as clean, well kept, and physically attractive as ours. The same is true, I believe, all across the spectrum of our support services and the people who provide them. I would like to ask the members of the faculty to join with me in an expression of appreciation to the nonteaching personnel at our university who make possible the carrying out of our teaching mission.

It is interesting, and occasionally useful, to ask what changes you or I would make in institutional arrangements if we could start all over and re-do those institutions with the benefit of years, decades, or even centuries of hindsight. For example, if there were no costs involved, would you locate the United State’s capital on the eastern seaboard, or would you put it in a more central location, such as St. Louis or Kansas City? Or would you structure representation in the United States Senate in such a way that the votes that some American citizens cast for the people who make their laws count about forty times as much as the votes of others?

The parallel question for us, of course, is, if you had it all to do over again, given all of the competing demands, financial and other, on the resources of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and if all the Church owned on the site of our present campus were 633 vacant acres, would you sell that land and use the money for other needed Church purposes, or would you (1) invest hundreds of millions of dollars in buildings and equipment necessary for a very large university and (2) effectively commit to additional substantial annual budgetary outputs of money that could be used to build chapels or elementary schools in developing countries or to promote missionary work or other useful and needed purposes?

A first cousin to that question—whether the Church’s involvement in BYU should be discontinued and Church resources used elsewhere—was, incidentally, a question that continued to be seriously debated by our board of trustees until as late as the 1940’s. It has not been an issue for the last forty years, and I do not anticipate that it ever will be again. This is one of several respects in which we have arrived and are here to stay.

But that does not mean that we within the university should not continue asking ourselves that question or something like it, and to ponder the implications of possible answers. Such an exercise is useful for at least two reasons. First, it is a reminder of the enormous resources over which we are stewards; as with any resources, these could be put to other uses, and we need to be conscious of our concomitant obligation to use what we have been given efficiently and in a way that achieves the objectives of those who made them available to us. Second, though BYU’s continuing existence is not a serious current question, the very fact that it is a permanent part of our modern Latter-day Saint landscape in turn leads to other questions, equally profound, equally interesting, and equally important. It is to some of those subissues that I want to address my remarks as we gather here for the purpose of rejuvenating our spirits in anticipation of the coming school year and searching for the most important horizons on which we should cast our eyes not only for this year but also beyond.

I am not sure what the answer would be to the question whether we would build and continue to support a major university if there were not already one here. I hope that the answer would be yes. I think that certainly, given today’s economic realities and demands on Church dollars, you would not build more than one institution of our size, quality, and budgetary needs. But if the decision were mine, I would build one. And I would do it notwithstanding the fact that I know of other needs that would be displaced and notwithstanding the fact that within recent years the Church has discontinued its involvement in its other major nonecclesiastical public-interest endeavor, namely, hospitals.

Why do I reach that conclusion? And how do you distinguish for these purposes a university from a hospital system? Isn’t health care just as important a charitable objective as higher education? My answer is that there are things a university can do to advance the restored kingdom of Jesus Christ that cannot be done directly by the Church itself, nor by any other of its components, either those presently in existence or those that could be brought into existence. Let me give you a few examples.

First, we provide an atmosphere of academic freedom important for LDS scholars, both teachers and students, that by definition cannot be made available at any other institution, no matter how tolerant it may be or how desirous to provide that kind of academic freedom. For those who are really serious about our religious beliefs, few issues are as important as the interrelationships between our faith and our secular knowledge and understandings. Similarly important is the ability to pursue those issues in an environment that not only recognizes them as important and legitimate, but also provides colleagues who may be able to offer some useful insights because the understand the questions and their implications. For the faculty member there is a related component, and it involves academic freedom in its narrowest sense: the freedom to think, to write, and to teach about matters of study and matters of faith and the ties between the two. It is a freedom that carries with it an obligation to see that the freedom itself is exercised in a way that takes into account not only the rewards and satisfactions to the individual, but also the potential costs to the institution.

Second, for the students we provide an environment in which they are not only academically free in this broader sense, but also in which they can learn values, by precept as well as by example, from their teachers and their fellow students. This is a place where we are still concerned about such things as the Ten Commandments—every one of them, including the fourth and seventh. This is a place where we value the importance of such things as service to our fellow human beings. The reason is, we regard our fellow human beings as true brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of a common Father. This is a place where we are convinced that our lives and what we do with them have a significance beyond the grave. And it is a place where a large majority of our students can find their eternal companions from among others who share their values and their objectives.

The opportunity to study in that kind of environment really makes a difference. The fact that it makes a difference, I believe, is being established right now in the marketplace, our marketplace, the BYU marketplace, by so many parents—including parents who themselves attended BYU and also those who attended elsewhere—who want their children to have that kind of experience. Moreover, acting under policies set by our board of trustees, they and we working together can choose not only to be a value-anchored school, but we can also select our own particular package of values.

I am convinced that especially during the undergraduate years, that kind of learning milieu makes a difference in student attitudes and emerging values and the individual student’s potential for success and happiness. Over the long run, it also has an effect on the development of leadership within the Church. And this, of course, provides another benefit to the Church as an institution, as well as to its individual members.

There are other advantages to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in having a Brigham Young University, unique advantages that the Church could not obtain in any other way. Different ones of us would probably complete that list in slightly different ways, but each list would probably include some facet or variation of a common theme: a beacon on a hill, a light shining to the world, or some other metaphor or way of saying that through our students, our alumni, and our scholarly works, we demonstrate for our university and our sponsoring church a standard of excellence and accomplishment. In many parts of the world, and among many people, the Church and its people are known principally, or at least are known better, because of the accomplishments of the faculty and students at this institution.

However we compile the list of component reasons for having a four-year Church university at this time and in this place, all must agree that those reasons are substantial. My personal opinion is that they are sufficiently substantial to warrant the enormous annual expenditures that we require. But this much is clear: we are an integral part of an inseparable whole, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the restored gospel whose message the Church proclaims. The reason for our being—the justification for our existence—is found, I submit, in that very fact that we are an inseparable, integral facet of building the restored kingdom of Jesus Christ. We do it in a way that is different from those who serve as missionaries or bishops or welfare workers. We are teachers. We are scholars and writers and artists who deal in ideas and things creative. Because we are teachers and scholars, the contribution we make to the building of the kingdom is unique to us.

I come, then, to this conclusion: because the warrant for our existence is found in the fact that there are things we can do to further the work of the restored kingdom that could not and would not be done by anyone else but for this university, we must regard ourselves as an integral part of the Church itself. Our mission is to carry out in our distinctive way the larger mission of the Church. Everything we do should ultimately be measured by that standard.

The basic policy choices are, of course, made by our board of trustees, whose members we also sustain as the Lord’s anointed. It is they who will define those aspects of that larger mission as they apply to this university. But we are charged with helping to raise and refine those issues—and to implement the decisions once made.

Now let’s explore a few aspects of what it means that our purpose for being is as an integral, inseparable part of the restored kingdom. I would like to start with a corollary of the larger proposition. The corollary is that just as BYU is part of a larger mosaic, so also each constituent unit of this university should see itself principally as part of the larger university wide effort. This is, of course, not a new concept. Paul used two different metaphors to remind the Saints of his day of its importance. To the Corinthians, he spoke of the indispensability and interdependability of different parts of the body. In his epistle to the Ephesians he used a different metaphor, a building. But in each instance, the point was the same: we are interdependent parts of a single whole. And that is true of Brigham Young University in two respects.

As a university, we are one constituent element of a larger endeavor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose charge is to build the restored kingdom of Jesus Christ. And within our own institution, we also consist of more focused individual parts, colleges, departments, divisions, centers, etc. I would hope that each one of these units would have as the first sentence of its mission statement that it is an integral part of Brigham Young University and its mission is to carry out BYU’s mission, which in turn is anchored to that of its sponsoring church.

Quite frankly, I think the natural tendency is in the other direction. Note the almost universal historical trend of church-sponsored universities to tear themselves away from their original religious foundation stones. I saw the same tendency in myself when I was dean of the Law School, and the longer I was there the more pronounced it became. I came to regard myself less and less as an interdependent part of the university and became more concerned with building up my own domain, the empire over which I presided.

All of us need to resist that kind of drift. To the extent that it is a natural tendency within us, we should consciously counteract it. The reason that we have a Kennedy Center, a music department, a student housing program, a chemistry department, and a football team is that each of these in its own way makes us a better university, better able to perform our unique mission. We should gauge the way we think about our work and the way we do our work against that fact. Similarly, BYU’s reason for being is the fact that it can contribute to the work of the Church in ways that are unique to us. If we did not exist, the contributions that we make to kingdom building would go unmade. And they are important contributions.

How, then, can we as a university best go about our task of integrating ourselves into the larger Church whole?

On two separate occasions (the celebration of our centennial in 1975, and then five years later at the inauguration of President Jeffrey Holland), President Kimball expressed the hope that BYU would become an “educational Mt. Everest.” It has been a useful metaphor because it has reminded us of the need to strive for excellence, to achieve excellence in fact, and to stand high enough that the world will see us. Not everyone has interpreted that admonition in exactly the same way. Many have inferred that we should measure the height of our mountain using the same devices employed by higher education generally. The Carnegie Foundation System, for example, has devised the following classification scheme or American institutions of higher learning:

A. Research University I
B. Research University II
C. Doctorate-Granting University I (BYU’s level)
D. Doctorate-Granting University II
E. Comprehensive University/College I
F. Comprehensive University/College II
G. Liberal Arts College I
H. Liberal Arts College II
I. Two-Year College
J. Professional School/College

Within this scheme BYU would be classified in the third group down, Doctorate-Granting University I. We do not qualify as a major research university either I or II because the measuring rod for those two is the amount of federal research money received each year, $33 million to qualify in the first category, and $13 million in the second.

Within our category, we are something of an anomaly. We are classified as Doctorate-Granting University I because we have more doctoral programs and grant more doctoral degrees than the category requires (the requirements are forty Ph.D. degrees in more than five disciplines, and our numbers for the past year were seventy-seven Ph.D.s in seventeen disciplines). But it is highly unusual for a school of our size and quality to be a predominantly undergraduate institution. Thus, only 10 percent of our students are pursuing graduate degrees, and of these 10 percent, over three-fifths are practice-related fields such as law, business, engineering, and education, with only about two-fifths enrolled in traditional master’s and Ph.D. programs.

There is a premise—sometimes unspoken and sometimes spoken—among our higher education colleagues across the country that what any given school ought to be doing is moving its way up through these various classifications. That is, most vocational schools would like to have a general education offering; most two-year schools would like to become four-year, and at any point along the ladder, most people would like to move up one or more rungs. After all, it’s a ladder—and what are ladders for but climbing? There are a few exceptions to that view. They exist mostly among the small, high-quality liberal arts schools (1,500-3,000 students), who are quite content with their category and are making no effort to move out of it.

What about us? Should we regard this categorization system as a ladder that we ought to be climbing? Here we are in the number three echelon. Where is our Mt. Everest? Should our long-range objective be to move out of category three and into number two or number one?

I think that virtually any other university of our size or quality would probably answer those questions in the affirmative. That is how you measure progress, they would say. Not so with us. And the reason is the precise one that we discussed a few minutes ago: the lodestar by which we fix our direction is not the Carnegie classification system. It is, rather, that we exist as an integral part of the Church’s larger mission, and we exist to make our unique contribution that only we can make to the achievement of that mission. Accordingly, our progress must be gauged not by how many rungs of the higher education ladder we can manage to climb during any given period of time, but rather by a very different standard: How can we spend our total resources—tithing dollars and our own time and efforts—in ways that are beneficial to things eternal, to individual sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, to their family units, and to the Church as an institution?

Against the background of that standard, I conclude that, though research and graduate programs are clearly mountains we must climb, our Mt. Everest is to be found in undergraduate teaching. For reasons on which I will elaborate in just a moment, this does not mean any de-emphasis on either the importance of research or our commitment to existing graduate programs or perhaps even others. But these are not our principal ultimate mission. Our comparative advantage, our highest and best use, our greatest potential to make a worthwhile contribution to the people whose contributions support us and to society as a whole is to be found in teaching young men and women during that period of time in their lives between their graduation from high school and graduation from college.

I realize that this is not some great new intellectual breakthrough for a BYU president. Virtually all of my predecessors have reached the same conclusion. But over the last year and a quarter, I have reached it for myself. I have gained my own testimony, which I bear to you today, and I would like to give you some specific reasons why I think it is correct.

The first is as compelling as it is simple. The teaching that we do here consists of an amalgamation of spiritual and secular truths, offered in an atmosphere that recognizes the reality of the Restoration. Our educational objective is to prepare the whole person for the complete life. That kind of education includes learning that one could obtain at any other good university couples with a value system anchored to restored truth. It would be quite misleading to try to identify which part of that combination is more important. For us, the two are inseparable. The genius of BYU—and also its heart and soul—is that we are the only four-year university that is attempting to join the two, and we do so because of the effect that the combination has on individual minds, attitudes, and souls.

That task can be accomplished much more effectively and efficiently with undergraduate students than with graduates for two separate reasons. First, undergraduate education is less expensive. The dollar goes farther because the student-teacher ratio is larger, space and other administrative support demands are not as high, and undergraduate students do not require as much expensive equipment to support their studies. The second consideration is even more important. I am convinced that the undergraduate student body is measurably and significantly more susceptible to the kind of total educational effort we make at BYU. It is much easier to instill values among eighteen-year-olds just out of high school than among their brothers and sisters who are eight years older and are in the middle of a graduate program. Indeed, I believe that our ability to do the kind of total-spectrum teaching for which we strive here is inversely proportional to how long our students have been here. BYU, I freely confess, had a profound impact on my own life. It is one that endures to this day and will continue to endure. Over 50 percent of that impact occurred during my first year.

In short, it is at the undergraduate level that we can do the most of what we want to do at the least cost, and for me that reason alone is sufficient to make the case in light of our mission as inseparably linked to larger Church objectives.

There are, however, other reasons. One is tied simply to our historical performance. For at least as long as I have been affiliated with this institution, our strong suit has been the preparation of our students to enter directly into a chosen employment or to do graduate work, most of them at someone else’s university, but a few of them at our own. At least over the last half of the twentieth century, and I suspect reaching back even further than that, we have performed that task well, indeed, among the best. Those of you who attended our graduation ceremony last April heard Professor Mary Ann Glendon’s evaluation of those of our graduates who attended the University of Chicago Law School during her era. She was doubtless engaging in a slight bit of exaggeration in order to lay the role of the gracious guest. But during her era and subsequently, not only at Chicago but throughout the graduate school world, we have acquired a reputation among the very best of our nation’s graduate training centers that Provo, Utah, is a place where undergraduate preparation is taken seriously and done right.

We did it well when I was a student here, and today we do it better. We can still improve, and I am confident we will. There are things that you can do in this respect, and there are things that we in the administration can do. We have been striving for ways to more adequately recognize and reward undergraduate teaching. We have made some progress, and we are determined to make more. Undergraduate teaching is our historical strength; it is one on which we should build, and we want to recognize and reward it.

Third, one not unimportant aspect of our serving the interest of the larger Church has to do with the public’s perception of what we as a people are all about. That public perception is also important to us as professionals who take pride in ourselves. Once again, BYU can make a contribution in this respect that is different from what any other Church entity can do. Now, how does this relate to the issue of our undergraduate-graduate mix? Let’s assume that we were to negotiate successfully our entry into the category of graduate research universities. What would we then be? How would we be known? And how distinctive would we be? At the very best, we would be another of many—perhaps scores—of larger graduate research universities. Aside from our religious values, it would be quite difficult to discern any real distinction between us and a long list of others.

By contrast, our opportunity to distinguish ourselves as one of America’s premier undergraduate institutions, perhaps even the best of our size—and therefore in a class by ourselves—is not only realistic but even probable. One advantage is our tradition, already noted; graduate programs around the country are already aware of our reputation, and most are anxious to have our graduates. A second advantage is our sheer size. I am unaware of any other private institution as large as we are whose clearly articulated objective is to remain predominantly an undergraduate teaching institution. A third advantage is the quality of our students. The entering class for last fall ranked sixteenth nationally among the number of National Merit scholars who attended here, and among private universities we rank fifth in the number of our graduates who go on to earn Ph.D. degrees. It is not yet clear what adjustments the board of trustees may ultimately choose to make in our admission standards, but almost inevitably our enrollment ceiling will have a continuing upward impact on the quality of our undergraduate student body.

Doest his mean, then, that we will be closing the J. Reuben Clark Law School? Or that we will no longer be training MBAs and will be phasing out our Ph.D. programs? Certainly not. Neither does it mean that we are going to be de-emphasizing research. Anyone who would draw either of those conclusions does not understand two of the essential requirements for good undergraduate teaching. They are: (1) minimum critical mass of graduate programs and (2) continuing high-quality research efforts, particularly if we define research as broadly as our provost has articulated this morning.

Graduate programs contribute to a university whose primary focus is undergraduate education in several indispensable ways. Perhaps the most important contribution concerns the quality of the faculty. Good undergraduate teaching occurs when you put good teachers in a classroom with good students. In the great majority of instances, the best teachers are those who also have a scholarly agenda and want assurances that they will be given reasonable time and resources to pursue their scholarly interests.

The closely related point is the simple fact that you cannot be a good teacher—a really good teacher of the type that we want at this university, and that students of the quality of our students deserve—unless you keep yourself intellectually alive: aware of and interested in what is going on in your field, abreast of current thinking and its implications, and, best of all, an actual contributor to that current thinking, one who is actively engaged in testing and pushing out the frontiers of knowledge. Unless you are doing at least most of those things, you are, quite simply, not a good teacher, because you are permitting that part of the real world concerning which you are hired to teach to pass you by. Your curriculum will not be current, and you will not be current.

My own experience is that the very best way to maintain this intellectual vivacity is to do a combination of two things. The first, as noted, is to keep yourself current in your field, aware of what is being done by others, and to develop your own views concerning the implications of those emerging frontiers of knowledge. The second is to put your own thoughts in writing and then to submit those written views to critical review by your peers. It can be a devastating process, shattering to the ego. It can also be exhilarating. But it is essential to the maintenance of the intellectual acuity and sophistication that we need among those who hold the noble title BYU faculty member.

For me, and I suspect for most of you, the devotion of time and resources as an expected part of my employment was one of two reasons that made teaching so attractive. The other is the association with students. In my pre-BYU faculty days, while I was in the private practice of law, I not infrequently had ideas that I wanted to develop more thoroughly in writing and submit for peer review in the journals, and on a few occasions I did that. But it was not an expected part of my employment, and those efforts came out of my time. Here, it was an expected part of my employment, which I regarded then and still do as a large plus. The people we want to bring here are those people who not only show promise as scholars, but who also regard the opportunity, time, and resources for scholarly work as one of the great advantages offered by academic life.

This is not to say that every person who stands before a classroom on this campus must achieve national prominence as a scholar, performer, or the like. Our criteria for promotion and continuing faculty status include three requirements—citizenship, teaching, and scholarship—and we are serious about the importance of each of the three. All are required for the complete faculty member. But we are continuing to search for the best way to recognize what to me seems so obvious, and once again is borne out by scripture, that not all of us have the same comparative strengths. Whereas I reject the proposition that a non-scholar can be a good teacher at the kind of university we want to have, or that anyone should join this faculty expecting to do no teaching or no peer-reviewed writing or other creative work, it seems equally obvious that, just as some are better at running and others at swimming, the work of a large university requires the performance of a variety of tasks, and our faculty members enjoy a variety of talents. We can and will find ways to match our talents with our tasks and then reward all faculty effort according to its quality.

I hope that we can also devise means to recognize and reward the importance of individual teacher/student mentoring. In my view, it ought to be considered a part of teaching and taken into account in our teacher evaluations. It may not be as easy to measure, but I know it when I see it. And I’ve seen it on this campus. Some of my most memorable experiences involved the personal attention that was shown to me during my student days by such teachers as Stewart Grow, Reed Bradford, Robert Thomas, Jay Smith, and others. I’m sure that each of you had parallel experiences during your own student days. They are the heart of the teaching and learning experience.

I realize, of course, that far more influential on the future course of our university than what I have said today will be the things that we as a university community actually do on a day-to-day basis. Quite clearly, the most important decisions in this respect will be the ones that we make with respect to new faculty hires, and, as most of you are aware, we anticipate about a 35 percent turnover in our faculty over the decade of the nineties. That important task—first in importance among all that we face—will necessarily involve the cooperative effort of the departments and colleges affected, as well as the university administration. The primary jurisdiction will be vested in the departments and colleges, who are in a better position than we to assess the best candidates and evaluate their potential as scholars and teachers. But we will play a role as well, not only to assure a minimum uniformity across colleges and assure that these scarcest of all university resources called FTE’s are used in the most efficient way, but also to assure that some of these principles I have discussed today do not get lost between university conferences and implementing decisions.

In conclusion, let me tell you how honored I am to be involved with you in the exciting process of university building and kingdom building that will occur on these 633 acres over the coming years. The history of our school has been one of steady evolution from a struggling Utah County academy to a college to a genuine university and then to our present crossroads, where we have the opportunity to become one of the very best in our business. That evolutionary process has occupied eleven full decades plus five years. Any one of those decades—the 1880s, the 1920s, the 1950s, or any other—was characterized by remarkable change and, in each instance, remarkable progress. The only constant across the entire time period has been our commitment to our unique combination of things spiritual with things secular.

I am convinced that the most exciting and interesting decade in our history will be the decade of the 1990s. I am also convinced that we can make it the period of greatest growth and greatest progress. Everything points in that direction. We have the best faculty we have ever had, the most qualified student body we have ever had, and the most able and dedicated support group. It is up to us to continue to build on the momentum we now have. That each of us may do his and her part toward that end is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

© Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Rex E. Lee

Rex E. Lee was president of BYU when this address was delivered during the Annual University Conference on 27 August 1990.