December, 1, 2011

The Maeser Legacy

Karl G. Maeser statue on BYU campus

I often think about my favorite person in the Education in Zion Gallery. Of course, I love the Savior and the prophets, but also near the top of my list is Karl G. Maeser because he was the type of leader I hope to one day become. His dedication to the developing Brigham Young Academy and its students set the course for what BYU has become today.

Many people were initially afraid of Maeser, a strict, German immigrant. From faculty and student descriptions, I imagine him to have been a serious disciplinarian with a giant mustache. I currently have a female version of Maeser as a professor, but without the mustache. She is also from a different country, often bringing her cultural perfectionism into the classroom. She expects much, and students cringe every time they are called on.

Although both Maeser and my French teacher were and are terrifying on some levels, I also feel a deep respect for them. I have learned, through the course of this semester, that my professor has high expectations because she wants us to be successful students and learn all that we can. As I have come to know her personally I have discovered that she is a woman of deep faith who works to build the character and intelligence of her students.

Likewise, Karl G. Maeser’s high expectations helped to shape his students in spirit and mind so that they could be prepared to be leaders in their communities. The gallery has numerous stories of his high expectations, yet there are even more instances of his compassion. While he was intolerant of misbehavior, he was also quick to forgive and had exceptional Christlike attributes. I am grateful for that type of leadership at BYU, historically and currently. As I prepare for graduation, I hope to continue developing those skills so that I can have the same impact on others that figures like Karl G. Maeser and my foreign language teacher have made.

–Eryn Lane, Art History Major, Education in Zion Gallery Educator