Brigham Young University

A School of Destiny


The prevailing assumption among educators who direct universities that are recognized as truly great is that a university must be a community of scholars whose predominant concern is free inquiry, the pursuit of truth, regardless of any by-products which may or may not bring desired social goals. The aims of Brigham Young University are somewhat different, according to Ernest L. Wilkinson, a former president of the university, and W. Cleon Skousen, a member of the religion faculty, in their recently published history, Brigham Young University: A School of Destiny. The authors indicate that the school’s policymakers have had a strong sense of destiny for the institution, a belief that one day their school would gain recognition among the peoples of the world as a leader, if not the leader in matters educational. Throughout the history of the school its board, made up of Church authorities, and its administrators “were in favor of seeing BYU become a leader in secular fields”. Nonetheless, the primary goal has been to encourage Mormon students to “live up to the high moral standards implicit in the Mormon faith, which is “more important to educating the soul than the mere accumulation of facts.” The authors maintain that very early Brigham Young University became a “training ground in obedience and soulbuilding as well as in traditional academics”. Thus, it has sought to educate the whole man spiritually and intellectually, believing that “spiritual objectives could be combined with the pursuit of scientific, intellectual and artistic excellence without detriment to either”.


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