After almost a decade of service to Brigham Young University, the final chapter of the Holland years is now complete as Rex E. Lee takes the reins from outgoing President Jeffrey R. Holland.
Reflecting on his nine years at the helm, Holland said, "No one ever feels they accomplished everything they had hoped, but I am fully satisfied with the effort we made and the ideals we tried to guide the university by."The weight as president of the largest private, church-related university in the nation is now lifted, he said, but with it comes mixed feelings.
"We presumed responsibility for every act of every student at home or abroad.In actuality we were parents to 27,000 students. It was a genuine burden, and after nine years I am willing to pass that responsibility on to someone else and with it a certain sadness."
He will now serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - a full-time, lifetime calling extended to him during the church's 159th semiannual general conference in April.
Elder Holland said he felt he was getting to the end of his term as president of BYU, but he did not expect the change to occur the way it did.
"I was prepared to take my place as a faculty member. This is a sobering and special privilege to devote my whole life to the gospel and work of the church. It carries a tremendous sense of responsibility."
In an earlier letter written to university faculty, staff, students and administrators, he said, "Thank you for giving Pat and me the richest blessings a university president and his wife could ever imagine.
"Emotions are deep and tears always close to the surface right now. The thought of leaving all of you, whom we have loved with all we possess, is a rending of the heart we had not anticipated."
Elder Holland, 48, was appointed as BYU president May 1980 and began his duties as the university's ninth president in August 1980, replacing Dallin H. Oaks.
He had previously served as commissioner of the LDS Church Education System for four years and BYU Dean of Religious Education prior to that.
When he took the helm at BYU, he did so with two principal goals in mind - to increase the school's academic accomplishments and to strengthen and emphasize its unique religious nature.
"I wanted us to improve academically, but I wanted it to come linked with gospel values," he said. "That has been the simple most abiding issue for me."
During his tenure, the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies was completed, despite heavy opposition in 1985 from ultra-orthodox religious leaders in Jerusalem.
According to Brent Harker, BYU Public Communications assistant director, opposition built until President Holland met face-to-face with the leaders of that movement and with members of the government and the mayor of Jerusalem.
"There was a dramatic turn-around after his visit," Harker said. "He is a very gregarious person and makes friends easily. I think he put his skills to work there. He is an honest man and that comes across no matter where he is."
Holland said, "Jerusalem is close to my heart. It was a long, hard battle that has been successfully won. I certainly felt I received the help of the Lord many times. Its completion is a miracle, and I don't use that word lightly."
Holland was also at the forefront of the largest fund-raising campaign ever at BYU. During a five-year period, almost $116 million was donated through the university's "Excellence in the 80s" program.
"It was our purpose not to be a drain on church resources," Elder Holland said. "We wanted to put charitable giving on a higher ground. We wanted people to get used to the idea of giving to the university like they had been giving to the Harvards and Stanfords for centuries. Somehow they assumed we didn't need gifts."
Under his leadership, the number of faculty members has grown by 13 percent. The student body has remained fairly constant at about 27,000.
Major buildings were also constructed across campus. Those include the Spencer W. Kimball Tower, the Roland A. Crabtree Technology Building, the N. Eldon Tanner Building, the Caroline Hemenway Harmon Building and Conference Center, the Leo B. Ellsworth Meat and Livestock Center, the John Taylor Building (Comprehensive Clinic) and the expansion of the 65,000-seat Cougar Stadium.
The oldest structure on campus, the Karl G. Maeser Building, was renovated at the same time, as were the Heber J. Grant, George H. Brimhall and Herald R. Clark buildings.
"I'm very pleased with the number of things that have happened at BYU," Elder Holland said. "I will be forever grateful for the association of the BYU family."