In recent years, the BYU community has wrestled with the question of the University’s purpose and mission perhaps more than at any other time. Among the motivating factors for this recent introspection are the increasing profile of the Church and the University in the world, the growing diversity of BYU students and faculty, changes in society that draw Latter-day Saints ever farther from the mainstream of Western academic culture, and the ever-decreasing percentage of LDS students who can attend BYU. To this list can be added the extensive self-study that was undertaken in conjunction with the University’s once-a-decade accreditation review in 1996 and—perhaps as much as anything else—a series of widely publicized dismissals of controversial faculty members.
The story of BYU’s recent history and its response to these issues is a fascinating one that deserves to be told. Bryan Waterman and Brian Kagel, authors of The Lord’s University: Freedom and Authority at BYU have stepped forward to tell that story. Unfortunately, their version is very different from the one that would be told by most informed observers.