By AMBER MEAGER
Former BYU President Rex E. Lee had a dream for BYU. The Lighting the Way Campaign, completed in Dec. 1999, went way beyond his expectations.
In 1994, President Lee proposed BYU’s largest campaign to earn money for a host of activities, said Barry B. Preator, former director of the Capital Campaign.
President Lee’s vision was designed to serve the students from the twentieth century into the twenty-first century, Preator said.
“I think it more than fulfilled his dream,” said Janet Lee, wife of Rex E. Lee who died in 1996 after serving as BYU President for seven years.
“President Bateman did a good job with carrying through with the original plan. I think Rex would be thrilled,” Lee said.
According to Preator, President Merrill J. Bateman has been instrumental in implementing and completing the Lighting the Way Campaign.
The campaign, which officially began in 1996, initially had a $217 million goal and was slated for completion in August 2000. Results of the campaign exceeded both of those goals.
President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at the campaign kickoff April 6, 1996.
“I’d just like to set forth a challenge tonight that we try to accelerate this [campaign]. I think it can be done. I don’t think it needs to take that long. Let’s do it,” President Hinckley said.
At the end of the campaign, contributions totaled $411,718,438, including a variety of unique and individual gifts donated to the university.
The money earned, from the campaign, helped to fund areas including the university endowment, learning enhancement and special programs, Preator said.
He also said some of the money would go to the Lighting the Way President’s Fund, which President Bateman can channel to the areas in the greatest need.
In fact, the money has been used for student scholarships and grants and in the building of the Howard W. Hunter Law Library and the new addition to the Harold B. Lee Library, Preator said.
BYU-Hawaii will also benefit from the campaign, he said.
As the campaign progressed, President Bateman’s foresight led to the development of online courses that would reach students outside of the university, Lee said.
“We envisioned an outreach program through distance learning as technology developed and expanded to people off-campus,” Preator said.
He said he believes President Rex E. Lee would be pleased with the results of the campaign.
“I heard President Lee say several times that this campaign would be one of the defining events in BYU’s history. It certainly was that in every way,” Preator said.