Becoming a University

Brigham Young University is a private university that seeks to develop students of faith, intellect and character who have the skills and the desire to continue learning and to serve others throughout their lives.  It traces its mission to the deed of trust used to establish the Brigham Young Academy in 1875.  Brigham Young founded the school with a clear vision of what he hoped to accomplish.  He envisioned the school as a place where every subject was to be taught bathed in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He also envisioned a school that would help students develop practical skills that they could use to make a living with.  The early Academy was essentially an elementary school that emphasized teacher training.  Students were placed in graded departments based on their educational level and previous schooling.  The Academy was divided into the Primary Department, the Preparatory Department, the Intermediate Department, and the Kindergarten Department.

Brigham Young Academy, 1897

Brigham Young Academy, 1897

By 1899 a Collegiate Department, which offered college level courses, and a Commercial Department, which provided post-secondary vocational training, were added to the Academy.  In 1903 Benjamin Cluff, Jr. convinced the Board of Trustees to change the name of the school to Brigham Young University.  This change formally occurred on October 15th, 1903.  Although the name had been changed, Brigham Young University still had a long way to go before being recognized as a college or a university.

The next major steps to becoming a university occurred under the direction of Franklin S. Harris. In 1922 Harris began a reorganization of the academic structure of Brigham Young University.  He created five colleges (College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Commerce and Business Administration, College of Applied Sciences, and College of Fine Arts), the Graduate Division, the Research Division, and the Extension Division.  He also encouraged the Board of Trustees to authorize the construction of a library building which was completed in 1925.In 1923 Brigham Young University was formally accredited as a college by the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools and in 1928 accreditation was achieved with the Association of American Universities.

Brigham Young University campus, 1929

Brigham Young University campus, 1929

Brigham Young University graduates would now have their degrees honored by graduate schools across the country.  The university had finally officially entered the fraternity of colleges and universities.

If you would like to learn about the sources available for studying the history of Brigham Young University , please contact the University Archivist at (801) 422-5821 or gordon_daines@byu.edu.

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