Brigham Young University (BYU), located in Provo, Utah, United States, is a private, coeducational research university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church). It is the oldest existing institution within the LDS Church Educational System, is America's largest religious university, and has the second-largest private university enrollment in the United States. Approximately 98% of the 34,000 students at BYU are Mormon; two-thirds of its American students come from outside the state of Utah.
BYU students are required to adhere to a strict honor code, which mandates behavior in line with Mormon teachings (including prohibitions on extra-marital sex and the consumption of drugs and alcohol) in addition to academic honesty. Furthermore, the Honor Code requires BYU students to adhere to a dress code. Approximately 97% of male BYU graduates have taken a two-year hiatus from their studies at some point to be Mormon missionaries, and 32% of BYU women graduates have been missionaries as well. Many BYU students obtain a level of foreign language proficiency while being Mormon missionaries, and BYU has many foreign language classes. Over 75% of BYU students have some foreign language proficiency.
The university's primary focus is on undergraduate education, but it also has 68 master's and 25 doctoral degree programs, including a Juris Doctorate program. About 70% of student tuition is funded by LDS Church tithing funds, making tuition relatively less expensive than at similar private universities.
|"I hope to see an Academy established in Provo... at which the children of the Latter-day Saints can receive a good education unmixed with the pernicious atheistic influences that are found in so many of the higher schools of the country."|
|— Brigham Young, 1875|
In 1903, Brigham Young Academy was dissolved, and was replaced by two institutions: Brigham Young High School, and Brigham Young University. (The BY High School class of 1907 was ultimately responsible for the famous giant "Y" that is to this day embedded on a mountain near campus.) The Board elected George H. Brimhall as the new President of BYU. He had not received a high school education until he was forty. Nevertheless, he was an excellent orator and organizer. Under his tenure in 1904 the new Brigham Young University bought 17 acres of land from Provo called "Temple Hill". After some controversy among locals over BYU's purchase of this property, construction began in 1909 on the first building on the current campus, the Karl G. Maeser Memorial. Brimhall also presided over the University during a brief crisis involving the theory of evolution. The religious nature of the school seemed at the time to collide with this scientific theory. Joseph F. Smith, President of the Church, settled the question for a time by asking that evolution not be taught at the school. A few have described the school at this time as nothing more than a "religious seminary". However, many of its graduates at this time would go on to great success and renown in their fields.
Dallin H. Oaks replaced Wilkinson as President in 1971. Oaks continued the expansion of his predecessor, adding a law school and proposing plans for a new School of Management. During his administration, a new library was also added, doubling the library space on campus. Jeffrey R. Holland followed as President, encouraging a combination of educational excellence and religious faith at the university. He believed that one of the school's greatest strengths was its religious nature and that this should be taken advantage of rather than hidden. During his administration, the university added a campus in Jerusalem, now called the BYU Jerusalem Center. In 1989, Holland was replaced by Rex E. Lee. Lee was responsible for the Benson Science Building and the Museum of Art on campus. A cancer victim, Lee is memorialized annually at BYU during a cancer fundraiser called the Rex Lee Run. Lee was replaced shortly before his death in 1996 by Merrill J. Bateman. Bateman was responsible for the building of 36 new buildings for the University both on and off campus, including the expansion of the Harold B. Lee Library from 1996-1999. He was also one of several key college leaders who brought about the creation of the Mountain West Conference, which BYU's athletics program joined--BYU previously participating in the Western Athletic Conference. A BYU satellite TV network also opened in 2000 under his leadership. Bateman was also president during the September 11th attacks in 2001. The planes crashed on a Tuesday, mere hours before the weekly devotional normally held at BYU. Previous plans for the devotional were altered, as Bateman led the student body in a prayer for peace. Bateman was followed by Cecil O. Samuelson in 2003, who is the current president.
BYU accepted 74% of the 10,010 people who applied for admission in the summer term and fall semester of 2007. The average ACT score and GPA for these admitted students was 27.9 and 3.78, respectively. U.S. News and World Report describes BYU's selectivity as being "more selective" and compares it with such universities as the University of Texas and The Ohio State University. In addition, BYU is ranked 26th in colleges with the most freshman Merit Scholars, with 88 in 2006. BYU and Harvard University are tied at 79 percent for the highest percentage of accepted applicants that go on to enroll. Students from every state in the U.S. and from many foreign countries attend BYU. (In the 2005-6 academic year, there were 2,396 foreign students, or 8% of enrollment.) Slightly more than 98% of these students are active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2006, 12.6% of the student body represented ethnic minorities, mostly Asian/Pacific islanders and Hispanics.
In 2009, the U.S. News & World Report ranked BYU as #113 in the country overall. The Princeton Review has ranked BYU the best value for college in 2007, and its library is consistently ranked in the nation's top ten--#1 in 2004 and #4 in 2007. BYU is also ranked #19 in the U.S. News and World Report's "Great Schools, Great Prices" lineup, and #12 in lowest student-incurred debt. Due in part to the school's emphasis on undergraduate research, BYU is ranked #8 nationally for the number of students who go on to earn PhDs, #1 nationally for students who go on to dental school, #6 nationally for students who go on to law school, and #10 nationally for students who go on to medical school. BYU is designated as a Carnegie research university with high research activity, one of the highest classifications by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
The Marriott School of Management has received recognition in several areas, most notably its accounting and business programs. The Marriott School was ranked the number one regional business school according to a 2007 survey by The Wall Street Journal and Harris Interactive. BusinessWeek ranked the Marriott School of Management's undergraduate program #7 in the nation for 2008. Financial Times rated it first in the nation in that year. For its ethics emphasis, a 2006 Wall Street Journal article ranked BYU second in the nation. In 2007, the school's accounting department obtained the "Best in Accountancy" title, according to the Financial Times global ranking of business schools. This department has also been highly ranked by the Public Accounting Report for several years. This report ranked both the undergraduate and graduate accounting programs second in the nation for the 2006-2007 school year. U.S. News and World Report ranked BYU's accounting program third in the nation in their 2008 publication.
Scientists associated with BYU have created some notable inventions. Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the electronic television, received his education at BYU, and later came back to do fusion research, receiving an honorary degree from the university. Harvey Fletcher, also an alumnus of BYU, went on to carry out the now famous oil-drop experiment with Robert Millikan, and was later Founding Dean of the BYU College of Engineering. The Department of Computer Science developed and currently maintains phpLDAPadmin, an award-winning open source project. In May 2008, research by economics professor Joseph Price regarding the effects of child birth order was featured on Today. In student achievements, BYU Ad Lab teams won both the 2007 and 2008 L'Oréal National Brandstorm Competition, and students developed the Magnetic Lasso algorithm found in Adobe Photoshop. In prestigious scholarships, BYU has produced 10 Rhodes Scholars, three Gates Scholars in the last four years, and in the last decade has claimed 41 Fulbright scholars and 3 Jack Kent Cooke scholars.
Over three quarters of the student body have some proficiency in a second language (numbering 107 languages in total). This is partially due to the fact that 45% of the student body at BYU have been missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and many of them learned a foreign language as part of their mission assignment. During any given semester, about one-third of the student body is enrolled in foreign language classes, a rate nearly four times the national average. BYU offers courses in over 60 different languages, many with advanced courses that are seldom offered elsewhere. Several of its language programs are the largest of their kind in the nation, the Russian program being one example. The university was selected by the United States Department of Education as the location of the national Middle East Language Resource Center, making the school a hub for experts on that region. It was also selected as a Center for International Business Education Research, a function of which is to train business employees in international languages and relations.
Beyond this, BYU also runs a very large study abroad program, with satellite centers in London, Jerusalem, and Paris, as well as more than 20 other sites. Nearly 2,000 students take advantage of these programs yearly. In 2001, the Institute of International Education ranked BYU as the number one university in the U.S. to offer students study abroad opportunities. The BYU Jerusalem Center, which was closed in 2000 due to student security concerns related to the Second Intifada and, more recently, the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, was reopened to students in the Winter 2007 semester.
A few special additions enhance the language-learning experience. For example, BYU's International Cinema, featuring films in several languages, is the largest and longest-running university-run foreign film program in the country. As already noted, BYU also offers an intensive foreign language living experience, the Foreign Language Student Residence. This is an on-campus apartment complex where students commit to only speak their foreign language of choice while in their apartments.
In 1992, the university drafted a new Statement on Academic Freedom, specifying that limitations may be placed upon "expression with students or in public that: (1) contradicts or opposes, rather than analyzes or discusses, fundamental Church doctrine or policy; (2) deliberately attacks or derides the Church or its general leaders; or (3) violates the Honor Code because the expression is dishonest, illegal, unchaste, profane, or unduly disrespectful of others." These restrictions have caused some controversy as several professors have been disciplined according to the new rule. The American Association of University Professors has claimed that "infringements on academic freedom are distressingly common and that the climate for academic freedom is distressingly poor." The new rules have not affected BYU's accreditation, as the university's chosen accrediting body allows "religious colleges and universities to place limitations on academic freedom so long as they publish those limitations candidly", according to associate academic vice president Jim Gordon. The AAUP's concern was not with restrictions on the faculty member's religious expression but with a failure, as alleged by the faculty member and AAUP, that the restrictions had not been adequately specified in advance by BYU:
The campus is home to several museums containing exhibits from many different fields of study. BYU's Museum of Art, for example, is one of the largest and most attended art museums in the Mountain West. This Museum aids in academic pursuits of students at BYU via research and study of the artworks in its collection. The Museum is also open to the general public and provides educational programming. The Museum of Peoples and Cultures is a museum of archaeology and ethnology. It focuses on native cultures and artifacts of the Great Basin, American Southwest, Mesoamerica, Peru, and Polynesia. Home to more than 40,000 artifacts and 50,000 photographs, it documents BYU's archaeological research. The Earth Science Museum was built in 1976 to display the many fossils found by BYU's Dr. James A. Jensen. It holds many artifacts from the Jurassic Period (210-140 million years ago), and is one the top five collections in the world of fossils from that time period. It has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and on television internationally. The museum receives about 25,000 visitors every year. The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum was formed in 1978. It features several forms of plant and animal life on display and available for research by students and scholars. The campus also houses several performing arts facilities. The de Jong Concert Hall seats 1282 people and is named for Gerrit de Jong Jr. The Pardoe Theatre is named for T. Earl and Kathryn Pardoe. Students use its stage in a variety of theatre experiments, as well as for Pardoe Series performances. It seats 500 people, and has quite a large stage with a proscenium opening of 19 by . The Margetts Theatre was named for Philip N. Margetts, a prominent Utah theatre figure. A smaller, black box theater, it allows a variety of seating and staging formats. It seats 125, and measures 30 by . The Nelke Theatre, named for one of BYU's first drama teachers, is used largely for instruction in experimental theater. It seats 280.
Heritage Halls is a twelve-building housing complex on campus which offers apartment-style living. Each of the separate buildings is named after a notable Latter-day Saint woman. The halls house both male and female students, divided by gender into separate buildings. Each building has ten units capable of housing six people each. Helaman Halls is a slightly newer complex which has recently undergone a 12 year renovation spanning 1991 and through 2003. Deseret Towers, or "DT" as it is called by students, at one point consisted of seven towers capable of housing over 2000 students. However, on December 2006, V and W Hall were torn down. The others followed in 2008 with demolition being completed in May 2008.
Wymount Terrace, intended solely for students with young families, contains a total of 462 apartments in 24 buildings. Another complex originally intended for families is Wyview Park. This recently changed in 2006, when the complex began housing single students as well, in order to counteract loss of singles' housing in other areas. A unique form of housing on campus is found in the Foreign Language Student Residence (FLSR) complex. The twenty-five apartments in this complex provide housing for students in foreign languages. Residents of these apartments agree to speak only their apartment's assigned language during the school year while in the apartment. This immersion experience is available in nine languages, and students are accompanied by a native resident throughout the year to enhance the experience.
Helaman Halls is served by a central cafeteria called the Cannon Center. Branches of the BYU Creamery provide basic food and general grocery products for students living in Heritage Halls, Wymount, Wyview, and the FLSR. The store, begun in 1949, has become a BYU tradition and is frequented by visitors to the university and members of the community, as well as students. It was the first on-campus full-time service grocery store in the country.
BYU's Wind Symphony and Chamber Orchestra have toured many countries including Denmark, Hong Kong, Russia, the British Isles, and Central Europe. The Symphonic Band is also an ensemble dedicated to developing the musician, but with a less strenuous focus on performance. Additionally, BYU has a marching band program called the Cougar Marching Band.
BYU has a choral program with over 500 members. The four BYU auditioned choirs include the 40-member BYU Singers, the 90-member BYU Concert Choir, the 200-member BYU Men's Chorus (the largest male collegiate choir in the U.S.), and the 190-member BYU Women's Chorus. Each of the four groups has recorded several times under BYU's label Tantara Records.
BYU has Athletics teams in a number of different sports ranging from Men's volleyball to Women's rugby. They play mainly in the Mountain West Conference since its inception in 1999. Prior to that time BYU teams competed in the Western Athletic Conference. All teams are named the "Cougars", and Cosmo the Cougar has been the school's mascot since 1953. The school's fight song is the Cougar Fight Song. Because many of its players serve on full time missions for two years, BYU's athletes are often older on average than other school's players. The NCAA allows students to serve missions for two years without subtracting that time from their eligibility period. This has caused minor controversy, but is largely recognized as not lending the school any significant advantage, since players receive no athletic and little physical training during their missions. BYU has also received attention from sports networks for refusal to play games on Sunday, as well as expelling players due to honor code violations.
|"The mission of [BYU] is to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life. That assistance should provide a period of intensive learning in a stimulating setting where a commitment to excellence is expected and the full realization of human potential is pursued...."|
|— BYU Mission Statement|
BYU is also considered by many Latter-day Saints, as well as some university and Church leaders to be "The Lord's University". This phrase is used in reference to the school's perceived mission as an "ambassador" to the world for the LDS Church and thus, for Jesus Christ. In the past, some students and faculty have expressed dissatisfaction with this nickname, as it sometimes gives students the idea that university authorities are always divinely inspired and never to be contradicted. Leaders of the school, however, acknowledge that the nickname represents more a goal that the university strives for, and not its current state of being. Leaders encourage students and faculty to help fulfill the goal by following the teachings of their religion, adhering to the school's honor code, and serving others with the knowledge they gain while attending.
BYU mandates that its students be religiously active. Both LDS and Non-LDS students are required to provide an endorsement from an ecclesiastic (religious) leader with their application for admittance. LDS BYU students can choose to affiliate with the local congregation (ward) where they reside or the corresponding student ward. Over 900 rooms on BYU campus are used for the purposes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregations. More than 150 congregations meet on BYU campus each Sunday. "BYU's campus becomes one of the busiest and largest centers of worship in the world" with about 24,000 persons attending church services on campus.
Some 97% of male BYU graduates and 32% of female graduates took a hiatus from their undergraduate studies at one point to serve as LDS missionaries. Male students typically go on their missions shortly after turning 19 years old. This often occurs during or at the end of their freshman year. Female students may begin their missionary service anytime after turning 21. For males, a full-time mission is two years in length, and for females it lasts 18 months.
One of the characteristics of BYU most often pointed out is its reputation for emphasizing a "marriage culture. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints highly value marriage and family, as well as marriage within the faith. Approximately 51% of the graduates in BYU's class of 2005 were married. This is compared to a national marriage average among college graduates of 11%. BYU students on average marry at the age of 22, according to a 2005 study, while the national average age is 25 years for men and 27 for women.
Many visitors to BYU, and Utah Valley as a whole, report being surprised by the culturally conservative environment. Brigham Young University's Honor Code, which all BYU students agree to as a condition of studying at BYU, prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, etc. As mentioned earlier, The Princeton Review has rated BYU the "#1 stone cold sober school" in the nation for several years running, an honor which the late LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley had commented on with pride. According to the Uniform Crime Reports, incidents of crime in Provo are lower than the national average. Murder is rare, and robberies are about 1/10th the national average.
As of November 2007, BYU has approximately 362,000 living alumni. Alumni relations are coordinated and activities are held at the new Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center.
Over 21 BYU graduates have served in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, such as former Dean of the U.S. Senate Reed Smoot (class of 1876). Cabinet members of American presidents include former Secretary of Agriculture to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ezra Taft Benson '26 and Rex E. Lee '60, who was U.S. Solicitor General under President Ronald Reagan. Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts and 2008 Republican Presidential Candidate, was valedictorian of his class in 1971.
BYU alumni in academia include former Dean of the Harvard Business School Kim B. Clark and Michael K. Young '73, current President of The University of Utah. The University also graduated Nobel Prize winner Paul D. Boyer, as well as Philo Farnsworth (co-inventor of the electronic television) and Harvey Fletcher (inventor of the hearing aid). Three of BYU's twelve presidents were alumni of the University. Additionally, alumni of BYU who have served as business leaders include Citigroup CFO Gary Crittenden '76, former Dell CEO Kevin Rollins '84, Deseret Book CEO Sheri L. Dew, and Matthew K. McCauley, CEO of children's clothing company Gymboree.
In literature and journalism, BYU has produced several best-selling authors, including Orson Scott Card '75, Brandon Sanderson '00 & '05, and Stephenie Meyer '95. Other media personalities include award-winning ESPN sportscaster and former Miss America Sharlene Wells Hawkes '86 and former co-host of CBS's The Early Show Jane Clayson Johnson '90. In entertainment and television, BYU is represented by Jon Heder '02 (best known for his role as Napoleon Dynamite), Golden Globe-nominated Aaron Eckhart '94, Jeopardy! all-time champion Ken Jennings '00, and Richard Dutcher, the "Father of Mormon Cinema. In the music industry BYU is represented by former American Idol contestant Carmen Rasmusen and Mormon Tabernacle Choir director Mack Wilberg.
BYU has also produced several leaders of religion. Alumni have comprised several General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including two church presidents (Thomas S. Monson '74 and Ezra Taft Benson '26), five apostles (D. Todd Christofferson '69, David A. Bednar '76, Jeffrey R. Holland '65 & '66, Dallin H. Oaks '54, and Reed Smoot 1876), and two General Relief Society Presidents (Julie B. Beck '73 and Belle Spafford '20).
A number of BYU alumni have found success in professional sports, representing the University in 7 MLB World Series, 5 NBA Finals, and 25 NFL Super Bowls. In baseball, BYU alumni include All-Stars Rick Aguilera '83, Wally Joyner '84, and Jack Morris '76. Professional basketball players include three-time NBA Finals champion Danny Ainge '81 and three-time Olympic medalist Krešimir Ćosić '73. BYU also claims notable professional football players including Super Bowl MVP Steve Young '84 & '94, Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer '90, and two-time Super Bowl winner Jim McMahon '81. In golf, BYU alumni include two major championship winners: Johnny Miller ('69) at the 1973 U.S. Open and 1976 British Open and Mike Weir ('92) at the 2003 Masters.