BYU celebrates 195th birthday of Karl G. Maeser

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A portrait of Karl G. Maeser is pictured in black and white. Maeser left behind a legacy of education and spirituality. (Charles Roscoe Savage, Utah State Historical Society Classified Photo Collection)

Students donned shiny party hats, ate kolaches and chatted under blue and white streamers to celebrate the 195th birthday of Karl G. Maeser in the Education in Zion Gallery on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

The event started with a mad dash up the stairs to be first in line for a dessert kolache. Hruska’s Kolaches in Provo provided the refreshments for the party.

“Kolaches is really the only reason we’re here,” said Madelyn Boulton, a 22-year-old accounting major from Provo. “And Brother Maeser’s birthday.”

Students lined up to get their treat. Hruska’s Kolaches has been a Center Street staple since 2014. (Eleanor Lambert)

Maeser has been called the spiritual architect of both Brigham Young Academy and Brigham Young University. He was head of Brigham Young Academy and Brigham Young University from 1876 to 1892.

Eliza Dunn, a 21-year-old psychology major from Orem who helps coordinate events for the Education in Zion Gallery, said the gallery focused on Maeser a lot because he was one of the first presidents of Brigham Young Academy, and revived the university when one of the original buildings burned down.

“He held the university on his back, kept it going and helped the next building, which is now the library, be built,” Dunn said.

As she passed out stickers of a photograph of Maeser overlaid with birthday cake and balloons, she said she didn’t know what exactly drew the students to the event.

“If it was the advertising, I would give myself a pat on the back,” Dunn said.

Brother Maeser had a blue and white BYU birthday. He was the founding principal of Brigham Young Academy. (Eleanor Lambert)

Atlas, a 21-year-old technology and engineering studies major from Sykesville, Maryland, said they associated Brother Maeser with the Honors Program at BYU and heard about the event through their email. 

Atlas said while in the Honors Program, they were very interested in the topics and appreciated the interdisciplinary work.

In the gallery, students played pioneer games and enjoyed music from the piano and the art.

The permanent exhibition in the Education in Zion Gallery is called Education for Eternity, which “fills the gallery’s second floor and explores the study-experience-revelation cycle and the four aims of a BYU education,” according to their website.

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