June, 5, 2012

Brigham Young Academy: Times of Trial

Karl G. Maeser: courtesy of BYU

With only 29 students enrolled, Karl G. Maeser began his first year as principal of Brigham Young Academy in 1876.1 He had just been called by Church President Brigham Young to head this fledgling academy and must have felt overwhelmed: funds were low, the building was in disrepair, and financially incapable students were often let in with only IOU’s in hand. To help surmount financial burdens, Maeser himself filled vacant positions throughout the academy; in addition to being principal, he also personally taught several subjects, organized devotionals, acted as janitor and chorister, and performed many other responsibilities.2

Even with all the struggles in those first few years, the tiny academy continued to grow under the path Maeser outlined, later termed the “Charted Course” by J. Reuben Clark. This involved combining the spiritual and secular learning into one, well-rounded education. Maeser was not interested in stuffing degrees into the hands of his students; instead he wished to develop men and women of character. Even with all the struggles of managing an academy, Maeser kept a watchful and caring eye on his students. He set up a mentorship between older students and younger ones in addition to taking time to meet with many of the students individually.

Karl G. Maeser was an inspired leader called by a prophet of the Lord. Through his faith and diligence, Brigham Young Academy survived and became the enormous, influential campus it is today. He is a great example of faith in the Lord through times of great struggle.


Suggested Links

Brigham Young Academy

The Charted Course


1. BYA Board of Trustees Minutes, April 15, 1876, 7, UA 6, box 10, folder 4, Board of

Trustees Records, 1875–1985, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library,

Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

2. J. Marinus Jensen, “The Preliminary Term of Karl G. Maeser,” UA 104, J.

Marinus Jensen Collection, University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B.

Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.