The university traces its roots to Utah's rich pioneer heritage. The original school, Brigham Young Academy, was established Oct. 16, 1875. It covered just over one acre of land in what is now downtown Provo. At that time, Brigham Young, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, charged that all secular learning at the institution be fused with teachings from the scriptures. Speaking to academy principal Karl G. Maeser, President Young said: "Brother Maeser, I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God." BYU has remained true to that original charge.
Despite steady growth during its early years, the academy was threatened by a series of financial and physical setbacks. In 1891, with the help and sacrifice of Abraham O. Smoot, the campus moved to new facilities on University Avenue.
The academy strengthened its curriculum, and enrollment grew. In 1903, the name was officially changed to Brigham Young University. Work began in 1909 on the Maeser Memorial Building, the first of many structures on the university's present site. Successive administrations oversaw the university's growth in the number of buildings and the size of the student body. The university's academic development was signified by the inauguration of the school's first doctoral program in 1957. With the help of its committed presidents, BYU has continued to grow, refine its mission, and pursue excellence in all areas.
Today, under the leadership of President Cecil O. Samuelson, the university remains dedicated to the integration of academic excellence with faith in Jesus Christ and His restored gospel.