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David O. McKay Diaries – “Institutes of Religion”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Institutes of Religion.” You can view other subjects here.

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Mon., 22 May, 1950:

“Telephone calls:

1. President Frank H. Brown of the Big Horn Stake, Lovell, Wyoming called me by telephone.  He took up the problem that has arisen over the resignation of Brother Tew from the seminary system.  A man by the name of Oliphant has been appointed to take Brother Tew’s place.  There is a strong resentment against him because of his harshness (he being a local judge) in handling juveniles.  He has done a fine work nonetheless.  However, President Brown says he has a petition from the poeple, and has had many personal visits from the members of the Church who are pleading that Brother Tew be asked to remain in the seminary up there; they have even offered to subsidize his wages.  Brother Tew has a large family and cannot support them properly on the wages he is receiving from the seminary.  He has been trying to sell insurance on the side, and in fact is one of the outstanding salesmen of the Beneficial Life Insurance Company.  Brother Brown is of the opinion that Brother Tew can be persuaded to remain with the seminary.  Said that he and Brother Oliphant are now down in Salt Lake City staying at the Temple Square Hotel, and he wondered if I would interview them and straighten the whole thing out.  I said that I could not do that; that I was here at the office alone and have every minute taken, but that I would call Dr. West and have him take the matter in hand.

  1. Dr. Frank L. West.  Called Brother West and reported the above conversation with President Brown to him.  He said he was aware of the situation, but had not been able to do much about it; that Brother Tew had resigned once or twice before because of the money situation, he having a large family and needed more money.  Said they were paying him according to the salary schedule allowed, and that he realized that it is not enough; that they were losing all their best men because of it.  Said the other man–Oliphant–who lives at Byron and Cowley also has a large family.  Said that he would contact these brethren at the Temple Square Hotel and see what he could do.”

Wed., 19 Jul., 1950:

“Met Bishop and Mrs. Volney Belhap of Ogden, Utah (31st Ward), who sought advice to give their son, Prof. Bryan Belnap, who is now a student at Columbia University and of the Union Theological Seminary.  Dr. Joseph F. Merrill advised them that the son should discontinue in that theological seminary, or he will stand no chance whatever in the Church School System; yet, Bryan Belnap had been advised by Dr. Sperry of the Brigham Young University to go there and get his degree, and he had been recommended by President Macdonald to enter that seminary.

I told them to write to their son and ask whether that seminary has anything to do with Columbia, or whether it is a separate institution.”

Wed., 16 Aug., 1950:

“I called Dr. Franklin L. West and asked him about Bryan Belnap who is a student of Columbia University and also of the Union Seminary with a view of ascertaining whether or not Brother Belnap’s attendance at the Union Seminary would preclude his teaching in our seminaries.  It has been reported that Dr. Merrill told this young man that he could not be accepted in our seminaries if he attends the Union Seminary.  This young man is a former student of the Brigham Young University and Dr. Sperry of that Institution recommended the Union Seminary to him.

Dr. West said that he could see no reason why Belnap’s attendance at this seminary would prevent his teaching at our church seminaries–said that he is a very fine fellow, and has a testimony of the gospel, and that they would be glad to have him; that he is one of the best, and that his training at the Union Seminary would not prevent his receiving a position with the church seminary system.”

Tues., 6 Nov., 1951:

“Visited the University of Southern California with a view of getting information regarding the advisability of building an institute in connection with that University.  The chapel where the various denominations meet is very commodious and we have at our disposal a commodious room in which Institute classes are held at noon for those who can attend, the classes being held daily, and we have the good-will of the school authorities.  However, I was not able to meet with the President of the University.

I found that there is not convenience for holding Mutual or classes during the various hours of the day when the students are free. There are 300 of our students attending the University.  The other churches have the same privilege as we to hold services in the building, but three of the other churches, including the Catholics have purchased buildings near the school in which they hold services.  I feel that we should arrange to build an Institute at this University.  Brother Done, and his associates are holding services in all the colleges within the area within a radius of 40 miles; he has an adult class at the University of Southern California at 12 o’clock but there is not time for consultation with the students as they must return to their classes.  Brother Done is an instructor at the University and has his regular classes.  They can hold services early in the morning, but that involves extra janitorial work.  They can hold classes on Saturday by making special arrangements, but there is no central place where students can come and receive personal contact.  I feel that the Church could well afford to build two Institutes in Los Angeles, one in connection with the University of California, and later, sometime in the near future, one in connection with the University of California at Los Angeles.  I feel that the best interests of the Church, particularly the students, will be served if steps are taken to that end.”

Sat., 19 Jan., 1952:

“Report on visit to University of Southern California

On Saturday morning, January 19, 1952, with Brother G. Byron Done, called on Dr. Fisher, head of the Business Department of the University of Southern California, with a view of considering whether the Church should complete the business transactions already begun by Dr. Franklin West in connection with the purchase of two lots upon which to erect an institute building.  After consultation with Dr. Fisher, I took the responsibility of recommending that the escrow in connection with this proposed purchase be cancelled, with the understanding that the one thousand dollars paid would be returned and that the cost of cancelling the escrow would be paid half by the seller and half by the purchaser. The building of an institute on the site that had been selected would very materially interfere with the future plans of the University.  Dr. Fisher was very considerate and stated that if the negotiations had gone so far that the transaction should be consummated, the University would take it off our hands, although they were not desirous of purchasing this property at this time. After consultation with the bank that has the escrow, and Brother Caldwell, and upon learning that it would not cost us more than $80 to cancel the escrow, decided to cancel it.  We now have the good will of the University authorities and their assurance of cooperation in securing another site which is just across the Street west of the University campus.  This is the first site that was chosen, and which we were later informed was included in the University’s future plans.  Dr. Fisher now assures me this is not the case.  If we can secure that lot the U.S.C. people will cooperate with us and give us every support.  It would save us ten thousand or more dollars as against the price of another property, and would serve our purposes just as well.  I reported this to Dr. West and he had indicated his approval.”

Mon., 28 Apr., 1952:

“[First Presidency meeting]  We discussed the matter of sending Ricks College faculty members to visit stake conferences in the area of the college.  Reported to me that it had been decided to ask Pres. Wilkinson of the B.Y.U. not to send faculty members into that area.  Pres. Wilkinson has been asked to send us a list of all the students coming from the stakes in that area to the B.Y.U., and suggested that the same thing be asked of the Ricks College.

I reported meeting with Seminary and Institute teachers and students in Tempe, Arizona.  The feeling was expressed by non-member teachers in Arizona and also some of our institute teachers, that it is unnecessary to send boys and girls away from home when they have such a good opportunity for religious education in connection with their college.

The brethren favored leaving the matter to the individual choice of the parents where they send their boys and girls.  There was serious consideration as to whether they should call off the visits of the B.Y.U. teachers at Stake Conferences.”

Fri., 19 Dec., 1952:

“Called Brother Harold B. Lee and asked him to go to Washington to inspect some property near the University of Washington which has been recommended by Dr. Franklin West as suitable land for an L.D.S. Institute.  The property suggested is said to be right across from the main entrance to the University contains three old frame buildings, and is 110 ft.  The price is $50,000.  It is stated that they could use one of these old buildings for institute work for the present.

I told Bro. Lee that we should like him to do this before Christmas as we do not want to depend upon the people up there nor upon others here.  Asked if he could arrange to fly up so that he could be back for Christmas, Bro. Lee said he would make arrangements to leave right away, and would report his findings upon his return.”

Fri., 27 Mar., 1953

“At 7:35 a.m., in company with Howard J. McKean, Bishops Wirthlin, Isaacson, and Beuhner, went to the Beuhner Auto & Concrete Products Company at 640 Wilmington Avenue (between 21st and 22nd E) to choose the color for the 1,750 blocks that will make up the outside wall of the Los Angeles Temple.

I returned to the office at 9 a.m. where I attended Executive Committee meeting of the Department of Education.  We tacitly approved of reorganizing the governing boards of the Church Educational system, the suggestion having been made that we place the Brigham Young University and Colleges, Institutes and Seminaries under one head.

Following the aforementioned meeting, the Bishopric and the Presidency viewed suggestive elevation and internal plans of a proposed temple for Bern, Switzerland.

President Clark and I then drove out to the Beuhner Concrete Establishment, and examined more carefully and critically the proposed material for the outside of the Los Angeles Temple wall.

We returned to the office and at 11:05 a.m. attended a meeting of the Church Board of education.  We considered recommendations of Commissioner Franklin West on retirement and employment of teachers, and heard his annual report.

Following the meeting I had a confidential talk with Commissioner West on the proposed reorganization of the Church School educational system.  He thought is was a wise thing to do; however, it was evident that he believes that the controlling body under the Board of Education should be the Commissioner and his associates rather than under the Brigham Young University.  However, he expressed a willingness to cooperate in whatever the authorities deemed best.”

Fri., 26 June, 1953:

The regular First Presidency’s meeting then continued–President Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Henry D. Moyle, Marion G. Romney, and Dr. Ernest L. Wilkinson, President of the B.Y.U. met with us to discuss the new church educational system.  They presented a chart, suggesting that the designation of the University of Deseret be given to the entire Church School System.  Brother Wilkinson read a statement, a copy of which he gave to each of the Brethren, explaining the meaning and history of the word ‘Deseret.’  The Committee felt that historically, religiously and traditionally, it was the best name they could find.  I was explained that the Brigham Young University would be under the direction of the University of Deseret.  (They at first suggested Brigham Young Campus, but withdrew that suggestion).  For the time being the President of the Brigham Young University would also be the President of the University of Deseret, having under his charge the entire Church School System.

The chart suggests that there be a vice-president in charge of religious education, under whom there would be the heads of religious education departments of the Brigham Young University, principals of 119 Latter-day Saint seminaries, heads of religious  educational departments at junior colleges, and Directors of our 16 L.D.S. Institutes, the L.D.S. Seminaries and Junior Colleges.

There would be a vice-president of finances and business administration, and he would have direction over this phase of the work for the Brigham Young University, the L.D.S. Institutes, the L.D.S. Seminaries and Junior Colleges.

There would be an executive assistant to the President, who would have no authority except that which is delegated to him by the President, and would assist him mainly in maintaining high standards of teaching in these various units.

The Brethren discussed at considerable length the matter of the name that should be given to this Church Educational System.  The thought was expressed that perhaps it should be called the Brigham Young University, but some Brethren felt, particularly Brother Lee, that it should not be given the name of any one President.  The thought was also expressed that if, for instance, we should call the Institute at Logan near the Agricultural College, or at the University of Utah, or in other places where universities are established, the Brigham Young University Institute it might cause some friction.

Pres. Wilkinson was asked to check into the question of who would sign certificates of graduation, also to look into the Articles of Incorporation of the Brigham Young University and other like questions.

The Brethren agreed that we should move ahead right away with this new program.  The Committee were asked to make their recommendation to the Board this morning.

Tues., 7 July, 1953:

“At 8:30 a.m.–Elders Joseph Fielding Smith, Adam S. Bennion, and Ernest L. Wilkinson of the Brigham Young University met with the First Presidency to discuss matters pertaining to the unification of all educational institutions of the Church under a single administrator.”

“Deseret news and Telegram, Thursday, July 9, 1953:


Dr. Wilkinson of BYU to Head Entire Educational Program

The unification of all educational Institutions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints under a single administrator was announce Thursday by the first presidency.

Named as the administrator was Dr. Ernest L. Wilkinson, present president of the Brigham Young University.  His offices will continue at the University of Provo.

Included in the new unification program are eight Church Schools; 15 LDS Institutes conducted near colleges and universities, and 192 junior and senior seminaries–throughout the Church.

The new change is made effective upon the retirement of Dr. Franklin L. West, who has been Church Commissioner of Education since 1935.

General Administrator

Under the plan announce Thursday, Dr. Wilkinson will assume general administration under the direction of the First Presidency, President David O. McKay and his counselors, President Stephen L. Richards and President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.; and the Council of the Twelve through an executive committee consisting of President Joseph Smith and Elders Harold B. Lee, Henry D. Moyle, Marion G. Romney and Adam S. Bennion.

With the approval of the First Presidency and the Executive committee, Dr. Wilkinson has appointed three men to assist him in his increased responsibilities.  The three and the positions are:

William E. Berrett, vice president in charge of religious education.

William F. Edwards, vice president in charge of finance and business administration.

Harvey L. Taylor, executive assistant.

Many Schools Affected

The Church schools included in the new unification program are the Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; Ricks College, at Rexburg, Idaho; LDS Business College, Salt Lake City; the McCune School of Music and Art, Salt Lake City; the Juarez Academy in Colonia Dublan, Mexico, and mission schools in the Tongan Islands, British Samoa and New Zealand.

Institutes of religion included are located at Salt Lake City, Logan, Ogden, and St. George, Utah; Pacatello and Moscow in Idaho; Berkeley and Los Angeles in California; Flagstaff, Temple, Tucson, and Thatcher in Arizona; Laramis, Wyo.; Reno, Nev., and Cardston, Alberta, Canada.

In announcing his retirement, Dr. West brings to a close a long and outstanding career in education in Utah.  For 18 years he has presided over the institutes and seminaries for the Church as commissioner of education.  Prior to that time he was head of the Department of Physics at the BYU from 1905 to 1906.  At the Utah State Agricultural College in Logan he served as dean of the School of Arts and Science, professor of physics, geneticist and meteorologist at the state experiment station, dean of the faculty and chairman of the athletic board and dean of men.

62 New Seminaries

As Church Commissioner of Education he has been active in promoting and perfecting the work of the seminaries and of the institutes.  A total of 62 new seminaries have been established which meet in buildings constructed under his supervision.  Likewise 15 institutes have been established and housed in buildings constructed under his direction.

In many places he had succeeded in setting up seminary classes before regular school time.  Through such a program the lives of many young people have been influenced throughout the Church.

According to the First Presidency’s announcement, Dr. West has ‘worked diligently to establish a retirement system for seminary and institute teachers and has been interested always in selecting a staff of teachers whose own spirituality has been impressed upon the students whom they teach.  In his retirement Dr. West leaves the service with the heartiest good wishes of hundred of teachers and thousands of pupils.  He retires with the benediction of the men under whom he has labored.’

Dr. Wilkinson brings to his new responsibilities a wealth of training and experience.  A native of Ogden, Utah, he is a graduate of Weber College, of Brigham Young University, George Washington University and he received the Doctorate of Juridical Science at Harvard University.

After a successful experience as a teacher in the New Jersey Law School, he became a member of the law firm headed by the Honorable Charles Evans Hughes.  Later he organized his own law firm and won national recognition because of his success in handling a case for the Ute Indians.

Dr. Wilkinson has been president of the Brigham Young University since the fall of 1950.  In the past two years the enrollment at the BYU has increased 42 percent.  Enrollment  figures at the Church University make it the largest school in Utah when full-time students are considered.  Students at the school come from throughout the world, with 39 of the 44 missions of the Church and all of the 208 stakes represented in its student body.

$10,000,000 Building Plan

At present the BYU under Dr. Wilkinson has a projected $10,000,000 building program.  About $5,000,000 of this will be used for student housing.  The other $5,000,000 is to be expended for a large modern building to house the College of Family Living; an administrative building; a student health center, and engineering building, warehouse buildings and other campus improvements.

Mr. Berrett brings to his new assignment both academic and legal training.  He took both his A.B. and LL.B degrees from University of Utah.  He has presided over and taught in seminaries in both Utah and Idaho.  For a time he served as assistant to Commissioner West.

He has also been assistant to Don B. Colton as director of the Church Missionary Home.  He has served many years as a member of the Sunday School General Board, and has been a member of a stake presidency.

BYU Faculty Member

He has been a member of the faculty of the Brigham Young University as associate professor of religion.  During the past three years he has been associated with Dr. Wilkinson in recruiting and training members of the faculty of the BYU.  He is and author of several books now used throughout the Church.

The other vice president in the new administrative setup, Dr. William F. Edwards, is at present dean of the College of Commerce and professor of economics at the BYU.  He brings to his new position the finest of training and experience available in the field of finance and business administration.

He took his A.B. degree from the BYU and his doctor’s degree from New York University in the field of business administration.  He has served as a member of the faculty of the latter institution in the field on investments and has managed large trusts in New York City before coming West.  He is active in several national organizations associated with financial and business institutions.

Counselor in Bishopric

Dr. Edwards served as a counselor in the bishopric of the Queens Ward, New York Stake and for several years was president of the New York Stake.

Harvey L. Taylor will continue as executive assistant to Dr. Wilkinson.  He brings to this position training in the University of Utah, where he took has B.S. degree in 1921; and his M.A. degree from Columbia University.  He did graduate work as the State Teachers College of Colorado and Stanford University.

He has been a principal of Utah schools, a teacher in Weber College, president of the Gila Junior College and from 1943 to 1952 he was superintendent of Mesa City Schools, Mesa, Ariz.

According to the First Presidency, ‘President Wilkinson has surrounded himself with strong men to do a big job.  He will have at his service the strength not only of these men, but of all the members of the Brigham Young University faculty.  This great system of schools, institutes and seminaries can become an ever more effective instrumentality in equipping the youth of the Church with solid foundations to meet the challenge of modern living.'”

Tues., 30 July, 1957:

“12:20 p.m. to 1 p.m. – According to previous arrangement met in the office of the First Presidency Brigham Young University television technicians who took pictures of me presenting the following statement with regard to the Seminary and Institute Program of the Church Educational system.  For 40 minutes I sat under the blazing lights of the television cameras until the statement and pictures were perfected.  This statement and pictures will be incorporated with pictures that were taken some weeks ago of Board of Trustees of the B.Y.U. and Church Board of Education, which will become the documentary film on the Seminary and Institute program of the Church.


The youth of today will constitute the leadership of tomorrow.  Their well-being, their training and instruction have always been of vital interest to the leaders of the Church. 

Great concern is shown for our youth, that they develop a testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and have as benefits in their lives the guiding principles and protection such knowledge and conviction offer.

The seminary and institute program offers daily instruction in moral and spiritual values.  It gives meaning and purpose to secular education, and assists the young man and the young woman to develop the attitudes of the noble Christian character.

In fostering the educational program of the Church, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve who constitute the General Board of Education look for the Seminaries and Institutes to have a significant place with the Priesthood and auxiliary organizations in the training of the youth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Wed., 14 May, 1958:

Wednesday, May 14, 1958


4.  Appointment of Elder Marvin Sorenson to conduct Seminary class for deaf students at the Riverside School for the Deaf (Riverside, California.)

I informed President McKay that the two stake presidents in the Los Angeles area, Presidents John M. Russon and Vern R. Peel, had recommended that we engage Brother Sorenson as a Seminary teach to teach six LDS students who were students at the Riverside School for the Deaf.  They thought that a number of non-Mormons would also take the class if we conducted it and that the cost would run to about $800 per year, which would consist of about equal amounts in salary and transportation for Brother Sorenson, who lives at Fullerton.  President McKay agreed to engaging Brother Sorenson for this purpose.

5.  Admissibility of children of polygamous sects to LDS Seminaries.

I informed President McKay that the Board of Education, during his absence, had decided, subject to his approval, that no children of polygamous sects should be permitted to enroll in Institutes and Seminaries without each individual case having received the approval of the Board of Education.  President McKay inquired as to whether we had had any real difficulty with these children.  I told him that my reports were that we had had not difficulty but that the students themselves had been cooperative and had ordinarily been good students, although generally they did not readily mix with the other students in the Seminaries.  He commented that he thought the decision of the Board of Education was proper, but that when individual cases were brought before the Board, he thought we ought to be very careful before barring any from attending.

9.  Seminary for shut-ins in Granite District.

I informed President McKay that the Board of Education had passed on to him the question of whether we should engage a Seminary teacher for teaching shut-ins in the homes of the Granite District.  He thought we ought not to do that.

Wed., 1 Apr., 1959:

“8:30 to 11:15 a.m. – Was convened in the meeting of the First Presidency.

At this meeting we considered the following items in addition to many other matters:

(1) Institute of Religion Building on U of U Campus

President Ernest L. Wilkinson of the B.Y.U. reviewed details of the proposal to purchase from Salt Lake City a piece of land at the south border of the University of Utah Campus upon which an institute building can be built as the University campus moves eastward.  He said that the proposal to purchase has been approved by the Board of Education, and had been agreed to and confirmed by the City Commissioners in Salt Lake City, and that the City Attorney, James L. Barker, Jr., had come to him to show him that the original agreement to sell the land stands despite newspaper statements to the contrary, that after the November elections the transaction can be resumed.”

Wed., 16 Mar. 1960:

“10:15 to 12:15

The First Presidency met with Dr. Daryl Chase, President of the Utah State University, and his business manager, Mr. Dee Broadbent, Business Manager of the University.  On March 10, 1960 I received a letter from Dr. Chase in which he asked me for an appointment, and said:  ‘With most of our student body and faculty being Latter-day Saints the developments I wish to discuss with you are intermingled with the growth and development of the Church on our campus and in Logan, but more important, with the welfare of the hundreds of communities where our graduates will eventually make their homes.  I need your counsel at this time.  Several important decisions are pending which will influence the lives of thousands of Latter-day Saint students, and have bearing upon fundamental relationships of Church and State on our campus.  A mistake on my part at this time would be a serious one.  It is for this reason that I ask for a portion of your precious time.’

After receiving this plea from Dr. Chase I decided to make an appointment for him to meet the First Presidency.  Dr. Chase made a very intelligent presentation of the need of buildings and developments at the College.  Charts and maps were exhibited, and detailed explanations made.  (See minutes of the First Presidency’s meeting for details)

One chart showed 1700 students enrolled at the LDS Institute in 1959-60.  Of 40 Institute classes held in the winter quarter, 37 are held in the buildings of the University.  President Chase explained that the courses given at the LDS Institute are accepted at the College for credit.

Another chart showed Church service being rendered in the East Cache Stake by members of the USU faculty.  Four other stakes in Logan also have officers and workers who are members of the faculty.  Members of the faculty are also active in stake and ward positions in Hyrum, Smithfield, and Benson Stakes.

The final chart presented the request of the Utah State University of the Church as follows:

That the Church construct the following facilities:

(1) One dormitory of the apartment type for 288 girls at an estimated cost of $1,094,000.

(2) One dormitory of the apartment type for 216 men at a cost of $820,800.

(3) One conventional dormitory not of the apartment type for 72 men (Delta Phi Fraternity) at a cost of $273,800.

And that arrangements be made for the investment of the Church in these buildings to be returned with interest on a self-liquidating plan.  President Chase stated that the amortization plan for the return of the money to the Church was figured on a 40-year period.  President Moyle stated that 48 years was set for the BYU.

Brother Broadbent estimated that the dormitories could be built in about one year which would make them available by the fall of 1961.  President Chase explained that in the dormitory buildings erected by the Church the standards of the Church would be established and Brother Broadbent stated that it is expected that the influence of the standards of the LDS dormitories would be felt in all other dormitories on the campus.

I expressed myself as in favor of the proposal, and President Clark and President Moyle concurred.

As I had felt for two or three years that we should do something for our LDS students at the Utah State University, I was very happy over our decision this morning.  (See letter of appreciation which follows from Dr. Chase)

 Following Dr. Chase and Brother Broadbent’s departure from the meeting, we continued with the regular meeting of the First Presidency, considering and discussing other important Church matters.

Wednesday, March 16, 1960

Utah State University

March 28, 1960

The First Presidency

     President David O. McKay

     Elder J. Reuben Clark, First Counselor

     Elder Henry D. Moyle, Second Counselor

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

47 East South Temple

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Brethren:

I am grateful for the hearing which you gave me and my colleague last week.  The decision to provide some housing facilities for L.D.S. students attending Utah State University will render assistance and encouragement to many young men and women to get a good education.  Too many young Latter-Day Saints, for various reasons, are terminating their schooling at high school graduation.

These new housing facilities will also provide our returned missionaries with living quarters which will reflect their ideals and the standards of the Church.  I personally will rejoice with these devout young men the day they move into their new home.

Moreover, the Church, the State, and the University will all benefit from the action taken.  Your decision nurtures the very roots of this institution.  In behalf of the thousands

of young men and women who eventually will be the recipients of your generous action, I say, ‘Thank you,’ and may the blessings of our Heavenly Father continue to sustain you in your daily labors.

Yours sincerely,

Your brother in the Gospel of Christ,

Daryl Chase


Original Letter in Scrap Book of Letters 

Wednesday, March 16, 1960

March 31, 1960

President David O. McKay

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

47 East South Temple

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear President McKay:

Last Sunday, Brother Burton, the Church Architect, met with several of us at Utah State to become better acquainted with the campus and the educational program of the University.  I believe that he was delighted with the choice building sites which the Church now owns at this institution.

I feel confident that under the direction of this highly competent and intelligent brother, we shall soon have this important project on its way.

Your steadfast support of education and the general enlightenment of youth is appreciated far beyond my power of expression.

Saturday, Alice and I were delighted to hear the radio report that Sister McKay is now back home.  Please extend our best wishes to her.

Yours sincerely,

Daryl Chase


Wed., 6 July 1960:

Wednesday, July 6, 1960





JULY 6, 1960

(Other members of the First Presidency were out of town)

1.  Phoenix Property

Elder Stapley and Brother Wilkinson reported that an official appraisal of $1,550,000 had been made of the property located in Phoenix which the State of Arizona had arranged to have put up for bid in order that the Brigham Young University may attempt to purchase it as a prospective site for a junior college.  They also stated that under the law of Arizona the bidding would have to start with the appriased price.  They asked for instructions as to how far above the appraised price they should go.  So far there is no indication that others will bid, but on the other hand, there is no way of telling what others will bid.

President McKay left the matter entirely in the discretion of Elder Stapley and Brother Wilkinson, suggesting that it be purchased as cheaply as possible but that in any event it should be purchased.

2.  Purchase of Future Institute Site at San Bernardino

Brother Wilkinson reported that the Executive Committee recommended the purchase of an available lot 110 feet by 315 feet adjacent to San Bernardino Valley College in San Bernardino, California, for a possible future site for an Institute of Religion.  There is a sufficient amount in the budget for this purpose.  The cost is $10,500.

President McKay approved the purchase.

3.  Purchase of Seminary Site and Authorization to Construct One-Room Seminary at Tucson, Arizona

Brother Wilkinson reported that the Executive Committee recommended the purchase of a lot 80 feet by 145 feet one block from the Rincon High School in Tucson for the erection thereon of a one-room seminary building.  The estimated cost of the lot and the building would be $15,000, of which the Church would pay half.  There is sufficient in the Board of Education budget for this purchase.

President McKay approved the purchase.

4.  Appropriation for Video Tape Equipment

President Wilkinson reported that the Board of Trustees had from time to time authorized the setting up and operation of a television studio on the BYU campus and had approved of a budget for the purchase of major studio equipment therefor.  The budget, however, falls $10,000 short of the amount necessary to purchase all of the video tape which it is proposed be purchased from KSL at a big discount (tape which that station can no longer use but which is satisfactory for the BYU).  President Wilkinson therefore asked for an additional appropriation of $10,000 for this purpose.  President McKay approved this authorization.  This had already been approved by the Executive Committee.

5.  Obert Tanner Gift

President Wilkinson recalled that Obert Tanner had offered to make a gift of a substantial amount to the University to equip a room in the new library which was to be in honor of Brother Tanner’s son who had died.  President Wilkinson pointed out that the Board of Trustees had decided against having such collections of books in special rooms because it was much more functional to have these books cataloged and in the library stacks in their proper places, and further because it was too expensive to maintain separate rooms.

He therefore asked authority to propose to Brother Tanner that instead of this room arrangement the funds be used to acquire the statue of Joseph Smith which the University desires to place in the lobby of the library.  The funds would also be used for the development of a browsing area in the library, both of which would be identified with Brother Tanner by the use of an appropriate plaque satisfactory to him.  If this plan is unacceptable to Brother Tanner, President Wilkinson requested authority to use the money contributed by Brother Tanner to make this area in the library more beautiful through the use of more expensive paneling in the area, a better grade of carpet, more expensive drapes, better and more expensive furniture, and other changes.  All of this, however, would be done in keeping with the overall interior decoration planned for the library and would not alter the original use that is planned for the area.  A plaque would identify Brother Tanner with the area.

President McKay approved of this proposal.

6.  Proposed Physical Plant Building

President Wilkinson pointed out that at the present time the Physical Plant staff at the BYU and the operations of the Physical Plant are housed in 26 temporary buildings all over the campus; that this was entirely satisfactory from the standpoint of full utilization of the facilities of the Physical Plant staff and also from the standpoint of economy.  He pointed out that at one time approval had been given to the construction of a single Physical Plant Building, but that it was felt that other buildings should have a priority, with the result that a Physical Plant Building had not been constructed.

He pointed out further that the BYU was exceedingly short of space for the engineering sciences and that unless they had additional space for the engineering sciences by September of 1961 they would probably have to curtail certain of their engineering programs, which would be very embarrassing.  The Dean of Physical and Engineering Sciences had therefore proposed that the University build some temporary buildings to take care of the engineering needs.  President Wilkinson pointed out that both he and the Executive Committee were opposed to the erection of more temporary buildings.

President Wilkinson therefore proposed that he be now authorized to proceed with the construction of a Physical Plant Building, the money for which would be approved in the 1961 budget.  He pointed out that by planning for this building immediately and getting it under construction as soon as possible it could be finished by the fall of 1961, in which event the 26 buildings now occupied by Physical Plant could be made available to the College of Physical and Engineering Sciences.  In this way the needs of both of these areas would be met.

President McKay authorized President Wilkinson to proceed forthwith with the planning of the Physical Plant Building, including the engaging of architectural services with the understanding that after members of the Board of  Trustees returned from their vacations in the late summer or early fall he would then present to the Board of Trustees the official request for an appropriation for next year.

Ernest L. Wilkinson


Wed., 20 June 1962:

Assignment of Dr. Lowell Bennion

We read President Ernest L. Wilkinson’s letter relating to the proposal to assign Dr. Lowell Bennion to the writing of five needed seminary and institute courses of study, and his release as director of the Institute at the University of Utah.  After consideration, it was agreed that the recommendation be approved.

Thurs., 7 Mar. 1963:

“10:00 a.m.

Council Meeting

For the first time for several months, we met in the Salt Lake Temple for our regular weekly meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve.

We then took up the regular order of business.  Among items take up were:

Seminary, Institute and BYU Personnel – Interviewing of

It was reported to the Council that the Council of Twelve in giving consideration to the matter of interviewing prospective seminary instructors felt to recommend that all General Authorities who are qualified to interview and set apart stake presidents and bishops be authorized to interview these prospective seminary instructors.

I stated that we are about to launch a new era, and the success of our seminaries and institutes will depend almost wholly upon the man who directs the seminary or institute.  I said that we would have to have stronger men right from the top down if we are going to make a success of this plan.  I said that I think we should make the requirements for seminary and institute teachers more stringent and that more emphasis should be placed upon the nature of the men to be chosen.

After some discussion of the matter, it became the sentiment of the Council, on motion duly made, seconded and approved, that the interviewing of these brethren be limited to the members of the Board of Education.  This will also apply to the matter of interviewing prospective members of the faculty of the Brigham Young University.

Tues., 16 May 1967:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency.  Presidents Tanner and Smith were present.  A few of the matters we considered were:

Seminaries and Institutes – Released Time for Students

President Ernest L. Wilkinson of the Brigham Young University reported that he had heard, although he is not sure that it is the case, that State Attorney General Phil Hansen is planning to challenge the right of the schools in Utah to permit released time for our institute and seminary work.  This will be a serious matter, and it was thought that if the Attorney General does go forward with such a program we should employ the best attorney possible to oppose him.

I asked President Tanner to keep close to the situation and keep us advised.