President Bateman encourages seeking truth, knowle

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    By MARK STRINGHAM

    President Merrill J. Bateman reminded BYU faculty and staff Monday at the Annual University Conference that the search for truth and knowledge is essential to fulfilling the mission of BYU.

    “Each member of the faculty, staff and administration must be filled with truth. We must not only be the best scholars, the best staff and administrators, but also the best people we can be. This is crucial in light of the unique institution of which we are a part and its connection with the church,” he said.

    President Bateman said the quest for knowledge not only helps the faculty and BYU community maintain high standards in the academic and professional worlds, but gospel truths must be discovered and shared with the world.

    “We must be contributors to the world’s storehouse of knowledge to improve the lives of others,” he said.

    President Bateman suggested the combination of religious and secular discoveries can fit together to build a “Zion University.”

    Recalling the words of former Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President John Taylor, President Bateman is not the first to suggest such vision.

    “You will see the day that Zion will be as far ahead of the outside in everything pertaining learning of every kind as we are today in regard to religious matters.”

    Central to the discovery of such truth, either religious or secular, is dependent upon the desire to find truth and then obedience to certain “fixed” laws or principles that govern truth.

    “The (discovery) process requires diligent mental exertion in both spiritual and secular dimensions, which then must be combined with obedience to secular and spiritual laws. These actions will guarantee access to the spirit, which will accelerate the discovery process,” he said.

    President Bateman also said the establishment of academic freedom within the campus environment is vital to the discovery process.

    “The right to ask difficult questions, to rigorously analyze results and report one’s work are vital to the dissemination process. We believe that faculty members should be able to research and teach in their disciplines without interference so long as a second environmental condition is allowed to operate.”

    This “second condition,” or the right of BYU to pursue its defined mission and have freedom from outside control, President Bateman said, is also an important ingredient in finding truth. It helps provide an atmosphere that is in harmony with its founding religious principles.

    “It asks (faculty) members not to engage in behavior or expression that seriously or adversely affects the University mission or the Church.”

    The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) recently challenged the University policy on academic freedom and was asked to investigate an alleged incident stemming from last year.

    The AAUP will release its report in the September/October issue of Academe magazine.

    In light of the allegations, President Bateman said BYU has no plans to change its course.

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