By JANNA NIELSE
Two years ago, former BYU President Rex E. Lee called three men into his office and asked them to co-chair a committee that would raise $250 million for both the Provo and Hawaii campuses.
Last week, the purpose and goals of this committee were made public at what university leaders called a “landmark event” in the history of Brigham Young University.
The “Lighting the Way Capital Campaign” promises to raise $250 million for the specific purposes of teaching more students, enhancing educational quality and extending BYU’s influence. Already, donors have committed $140 million to the campaign.
Leading the committee to find the remaining funds are Hyrum W. Smith, CEO and founder of Franklin Quest; Jack R. Wheatley, real estate and construction icon; and Alan C. Ashton, past president and chairman of WordPerfect Corporation.
Other members of the capital campaign committee include BYU President Merrill J. Bateman, Dale Murphy, Joe Cannon and Richard E. Marriott.
Smith said Lee had a vision for BYU that included bettering the students’ education and enhancing the impact that BYU has on the world. Lee asked Smith and the others to help him incorporate these ideals into a six-year campaign that will eventually raise millions of dollars and secure the future of the university.
On Thursday night, President Bateman addressed prospective donors and discussed the importance of the capital campaign and the money it will raise.
He said: “The question I am asked everywhere I go is, ‘is there is any way that more students can be touched by the BYU experience?’ and I honestly believe that the campaign can help us make significant improvements and have significant increases in terms of the number of students who are touched.”
President Bateman said that “there can be a significant increase in the enrollment cap without any more brick and mortar.” New faculty members and advanced technology will make this possible if $78.6 million can be earned for the category of teaching more students.
Other portions of the $250 million will go to enhancing educational quality and extending BYU’s influence.
President Bateman said that this money is of vital importance because the number of accreditors who understand BYU’s purpose will start to dwindle soon.
To keep in tact the spiritual aspect of BYU without discouraging accreditors, academic quality must be first rate, he said. Money earned by the campaign will help the university reach this level.
President Bateman shared with the audience a quote by John Taylor, third president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Taylor said, “You will see the day that Zion will be as far ahead of the outside world in everything pertaining to learning of every kind as we are today in regard to religious matters. You mark my words, and write them down, and see if they do not come to pass.”
President Bateman said this time is coming and will be made possible by the money raised with the capital campaign.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the LDS Church, also spoke to donors and applauded the efforts of fundraisers. “Nothing compares to BYU,” he said. “(It) is worthy of the very best efforts to all who have an interest in it.”
While this money will come from private donors and friends of the university, President Hinckley said that this does not mean the church will stop contributing to the school.
He said the church spends more at BYU than in any other single program under the budget of the church. The church wishes “we had billions more and could duplicate this campus,” President Hinckley said.
But, the only thing that can be done is to ask for donations and use this money to improve the university. “Every dollar spent here will be an investment that will bring dividends for years to come,” he said.