George H. Brimhall's Legacy of Service to Brigham Young University
Woodger and Groberg review George H. Brimhall's life and association with Brigham Young University. Although he had already obtained a teaching certificate, Brimhall enrolled in the first Brigham Young Academy classes in order to study under Karl G. Maeser. He joined the BYU staff in 1891 as head of the Normal Department. In this capacity, he combined his two great passions: teaching and the gospel. Brimhall was named as acting President of BYU in 1900 and stayed until February 1902. In 1904, he returned as the University's 2nd president. As president, Brimhall expanded the campus on to Temple Hill, began missionary training and genealogy classes, and started the Army Training Corps. Although Brimhall held his students to a high standard of behavior, he focused on individuals and showed a genuine concern for his students. Brimhall was open to new ideas and was generally very supportive of his faculty. However, in one incident his support of advanced ideas and his loyalty to the Church collided. He hired four professors that believed in and began to teach evolution. When General Superitendent of Church Education, Horace Cummings, recommended that the teachers should either stop teaching evolution and other associated ideas, or be removed from their positions, Brimhall agreed. Two professors resigned, one was fired, and one stayed and taught until 1916. Although the situation brought some disagreements among students and faculty, overall Brimhall felt that the resolution pulled Church and school ties closer together. In 1921, Brimhall was reassigned to supervise the seminary program. He retained an office at BYU as President Emeritus, where he still listened to and counselled students. He continued to serve on the YMMIA General Board and to write curriculum for Church auxiliaries. In 1932, Brimhall became severely ill and was confined to his bed. He died on July 29, 1932 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.