President Harold B. Lee at
the dedication of the J. Willard Marriott Center, February 1973. Courtesy
Mark A. Philbrick/BYU.
to the President
has a dual function, a dual aim and purpose--secular learning, the lesser
value; and spiritual development, the greater. These two values must
be always together; neither would be perfect without the other, but
the spiritual values, being basic and eternal, must always prevail,
for the spiritual values are built upon absolute truth.4
limitless expanse of these truths in their fullness you who teach here
must ever have in mind as you counsel the inquiring minds of your students.
Have always in mind the ninth Article of Faith: "We believe all that
God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He
will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom
was never intended that the leaders in this Church be an ignorant ministry
in the learning of the world, as has clearly been set forth in an admonition
to the early elders of the Church. May I quote a few verses to show
the immense field which is laid before us, to keep pace with scientists
and scholars and the development of modern knowledge:
. . . of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth;
things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly
come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the
wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are
on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms--That
ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify
the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which
I have commissioned you. (D&C 88:7880)
must never forget that which was impressed by the ancients: "Wisdom is
the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get
understanding" (Prov. 4:7).
then, is your law of instruction and a guide to keep before faculty and
students--to prepare yourselves for the work of the ministry as they go
out to take their places in worldly affairs.
We pass on to you, also, the divine
admonition to have those under your tutelage "study and learn, and become
acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people"
(D&C 90:15). Brigham Young University, indeed the whole educational
system of this Church, has been established to the end that all pure knowledge
must be gained by our people, handed down to our posterity, and given
to all men.
charge you to give constant stimulation to these budding scientists and
scholars in all fields and to the urge to push back further and further
into the realms of the unknown.
years ago, Dr. David Sarnoff, the father of radio and television, was
asked to suggest the possibilities of attainments twenty years hence.
It was his expectation that within twenty years from that time we would
begin to solve the riddle of communication by some electronic device by
which we could speak in English and our hearers would understand, each
in his own language. With our responsibility to teach the people of the
world, think what it would mean to our missionary and teaching efforts
if some scholars from this institution were to contribute to this possibility.
would hope that you would give to the students of this institution the
vision of the possibility that the Eyring Science Center could make a
significant contribution to the discovery of a cure for cancer--that treacherous
disease which took the life of that great scholar, Dr. Carl Eyring, after
whom that building was named. Or that from the David O. McKay Building
we would continue to graduate great teachers, inspired by the life and
superb example of one of the greatest teachers of our day, after whom
that building was named.
the prospect of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, we would hope that this
institution might be instrumental in developing statesmen, as exemplified
by the life of J. Reuben Clark Jr.--
men and women not only with unsurpassed excellence of training in the
law, but also with unwavering faith that the Constitution of the United
States was divinely inspired and written by men whom God raised up for
this very purpose.
up before these students the prophetic statement of the Prophet Joseph
Smith--that if and when this inspired Constitution should hang as by
a thread, that here well-qualified defenders of the faith of our fathers,
elders of this Church, would be prepared to step forth and save the
Constitution from destruction.5
God Give Us Men
God give us men. A time like this
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands!
Men whom the lust of office does not kill,
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy,
Men who possess opinions and a will,
Men who love honor, men who cannot lie.
institution has a great tradition. Its graduates, as has been well attested,
hold positions of distinction in the educational world as well as in
many fields of business and politics.
for balanced educational ideals. For example, seek for an education
that would bring from the athletic field an athlete who has not only
athletic excellence, but also a high degree of intellectual competence.
Such a one also would have standards of right living, which would make
him or her not only a hero on the playing field, but also one prepared
to face the problems of life, which would win the highest respect of
his or her associates--one who has learned to be a worthy family member.
In short, seek a balanced education that would bring forth an upright,
honorable citizen to whom this institution could point with pride as
an individual who finds favor not only with others, but also with God.
again, may we indulge the hope that you may devise a method of discovering
the greatness of that soul who, as measured by some arbitrary set of
academic measurements, may not be accepted. As an example of what I
mean, may I remind you that the great painter James Whistler, as a cadet
at West Point, failed in chemistry and was dismissed from that institution.
But he was head of his class in drawing and painting. It was a sad blow
to him, but he did not repine. Years later he remarked, whimsically,
"Had silicon been gas, I would have been a Major General."
this vision of eternal acceptance in the presence of God constantly
before you and fixed in the minds of a dedicated faculty, inspired by
the president, and impressed upon the students, thereby is laid the
foundation for the awakening of wellsprings of spiritual powers which
will bring forth miraculous accomplishments.
one, like yourself, schooled in the doctrines of salvation and the history
of the Restoration and with a testimony of the divine origin of this
Church, we would remind you that the acquiring of knowledge by faith
is no easy road to learning. It will demand strenuous effort and a continual
striving by faith.
need only to remind you of the means by which Daniel learned the secret
of Nebuchadnezzar's vision or how Joseph Smith had to prepare himself
for his prophetic calling.
Whitmer, one of Joseph's intimate associates in the early days, gives
us a glimpse as to why Joseph could obtain learning by faith. "Joseph
Smith was a good man when I knew him," said Whitmer. "He had to be or
he could not go on with his work."
short, learning by faith is no task for a lazy man. Someone has said,
in effect, that such a process requires the bending of the whole soul,
the calling up of the depths of the human mind and linking them with
God--the right connection must be formed. Then only, comes "knowledge
I conclude, I remind you of that oft-repeated charge of President Brigham
Young to the first principal of this school, Karl G. Maeser. This charge
summarizes, in one sentence, the spiritual admonition which has done
more to guide teachers and students alike in their attitudes and their
labors in this institution than has ever come from those of scholarly
wisdom of the world. That profound educational formula was "not to teach
even the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God."
may we say to you, never hesitate to declare your faith as did the apostle
Paul that "the gospel of Christ . . . is [indeed] the power of God unto
salvation" (Rom. 1:16).
we charge you to set a proper example in your own personal conduct.
See that your family and home life are in proper order. Do not neglect
your wife and family. They are your most prized possessions. Hold your
family home evenings.
always before the youth of this institution a deep sense of gratitude
for their pioneer heritage, a love for this country, and a deep-seated
reverence for the Constitution of the United States to the end that
they will never forget their civic and political obligations. Now that
the voting age has been lowered to eighteen, this becomes all the more
great joy will come as, in the years that lie ahead, you see the graduates
from this school become honored citizens in their communities and active
participants in building up the kingdom of God.
this, one of the great moments of your career--your inauguration as
the president of Brigham Young University--we, as the First Presidency,
the Church Board of Education, and the Board of Trustees, assure you
that you have our full confidence.
give you this final charge--that you will reach into that spiritual
dimension for answers which, if you seek earnestly, will secure for
you the sublime witness in your heart that your acts, your life, and
your labors have the seal of approval of the Lord and Creator of us
Smith Jr., History of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed.
B. H. Roberts, 2d ed., rev., 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971),
History of The Church,
History of The Church, 4:588.
Clark Jr., Inauguration Services of Howard S. McDonald as President of
Brigham Young University, November 14, 1945. Special Collections and Manuscripts,
Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 12.
Nibley, "What of Joseph Smith's Prophecy That the Constitution Would Hang
by a Thread?" Church News,
published by Deseret News,
December 15, 1948.