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Karl G. Maeser

Born in 1828, in the town of Meissen, in Saxony, Germany, Karl G. Maeser was recognized as a bright scholar from a young age. He received some of the most innovative and highest quality teacher training offered in Europe at the time and began his teaching career in Dresden in 1852. After joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he immigrated to Utah and was asked by Brigham Young to start an academy. He served 16 years as principal of Brigham Young Academy and although he was not the first principal of the Academy, he is considered its founder. The Academy became Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1903. Maeser went on to train thousands of teachers and helped found over fifty schools, many of which are now prominent academic institutions in Utah.

Throughout his life, Maeser made a lasting impression on his students at the Brigham Young Academy. He focused on teaching students how to develop rational thought and build intellectual inquiry. His philosophy left a legacy and foundation for the Honors Program today, as exemplified in the four pillars: academic excellence, community of scholars, interdisciplinary thinking, and skills of inquiry.

Shortly after his passing in 1901, plans were drawn for the Karl G. Maeser Memorial building-- a temple of learning to commemorate the beloved teacher. This building was the start of the development of the “upper campus,” where most of the University is now located. The Maeser Building remains the oldest building in use on BYU’s campus and is known for its beautiful classical architecture. Today it houses the administrative offices of Undergraduate Education and is home to the Honors Program.