Known for everything from its football and dance teams to its animation department, groundbreaking research and religious education, Brigham Young University has made an impact not just in Utah, but around the world.
On Sunday, October 16, BYU turned 141 years old. In honor of the school’s anniversary, here’s a look back on nine important events from BYU history.
Editor’s note: Most of this article was originally published in 2011 here: Timeline: BYU through the years. The information has been revised and updated.
1875, Academy established
Brigham Young established Brigham Young Academy on Oct. 16, 1875.
The academy opened with 70 students the following January.
1891, location change
Brigham Young Academy moved to its present-day location on University Avenue in 1891.
When the school originally opened in 1875, it was located where downtown Provo is now.
According to BYU’s website, the school moved to University Avenue in 1891 with the help of Abraham O. Smoot.
1896, official church school
Brigham Young Academy was incorporated as a subsidiary of the LDS Church, ensuring financial support for the school, on July 18, 1896.
It wouldn’t become the LDS Church’s official church university until May 3, 1908. In 1939, the school’s board of trustees was changed to be made up of LDS Church general authorities.
1897, first degrees
Brigham Young Academy granted its first college degrees in 1897.
The school’s first master’s degrees were awarded in 1919 and first doctoral degrees in 1961.
1903, name change
The board of directors formally changed the academy’s name to Brigham Young University in October of 1903.
1906, ‘Y’ mountain
BYU’s iconic “Y” was built in the Provo mountains in 1906.
According to BYU’s website, the plan was to put all three letters of “BYU” up on the mountain. However, just transporting the materials for the “Y” up the mountain took so much work that they decided to leave it at that.
Football was reinstated at BYU in the fall of 1920 after the church’s board of education lifted its 19-year ban on the sport.
1923, mascot chosen
BYU adopted the cougar as its mascot Oct. 1, 1923.
According to BYU’s website, “former coach Eugene L. Roberts is generally credited with picking the cougar as the BYU mascot.”
The site says that the university used two live cougar cubs, Cleo and Tarbo, as mascots in the 1920’s.
”Cosmo” became the schools mascot in 1953.
1948, honor code
Students in the Blue Key Honorary Fraternity wrote BYU’s first honor code in 1948.
Throughout the school’s history, the honor code has been the subject of many debates and has had many revisions. Beards at BYU, however, have been a topic of discussion lately.
According to The Universe at BYU, “long hair and beards (for men) were not completely against the code until the mid-1970s,” although “rules regarding longer hairstyles in men were introduced (in 1960).”
The school recently clarified that the beard ban did not apply to men growing beards because of a medical condition, for religious reasons or for a theatrical performance.