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Brigham Young University (BYU) was founded as Brigham Young Academy in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has grown to become the largest private university in the United States and one of the world's largest church-affiliated schools, with an enrollment of roughly 32,400 undergraduate students at the beginning of 2003. BYU is located in Provo, Utah, with extension campuses in Rexburg, Idaho (Brigham Young University-Idaho), and Lā'ie, Hawai'i (Brigham Young University-Hawaii) serving an additional 12,000 students. The main campus sits on approximately 600 acres at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and includes 333 buildings.
Students from every state in the nation and from many foreign countries attend BYU (in 2001, 110 different countries were represented by more than 1,600 BYU students). Although students are not required to be Mormons, about 95% do belong to the Church. Everyone admitted to the school must agree to adhere to a strict honor code while attending. The BYU honor code governs academic behavior, morality, and dress and grooming standards of students and faculty, with the aim of providing an atmosphere consistent with the principles of the Church. Students must commit to: being honest, chaste and virtuous; abstaining from illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco; using clean language; and abiding by the guidelines for dress, grooming, and housing. For example, skirts and shorts must reach to the knee and male students may not sport beards or goatees.
Church tithing funds subsidize roughly 80% of the cost of education at BYU, allowing affordable tuition for its students regardless of their membership in the Church, although tuition for students who are not members is one-and-a-half times the listed rate. In addition to fulfilling broad general-education requirements, students must complete 14 semester hours of religious education.
BYU consistently receives national recognition for its strong undergraduate and graduate programs. U.S News and World Report ranks BYU's Marriott School of Management and the J. Reuben Clark Law School in the top 40 in the country. In the July 2002 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education, BYU was recognized as the best in the nation at turning research dollars into inventions and new companies. Some notable inventions originating at BYU include a drug for treating a rare form of leukemia, water modeling software, and the modern word-processor. Philo T. Farnsworth, a pioneer in the invention of the television, developed some of his ideas for TV while attending BYU. Harvey Fletcher, a BYU alumnus, went on to carry out the now famous Millikan oil drop experiment with Robert Millikan, and was later Founding Dean of the BYU College of Engineering. Rex E. Lee, alumnus and 10th president of BYU from July 1, 1989 to December 31, 1995 clerked for former United States Supreme Court Justice Byron White and served as the United States Solicitor General under the Reagan Admnistration. He argued more cases before the Supreme Court than any other lawyer.
BYU runs the largest study-abroad program in the United States, with satellite centers in London, Jerusalem, and Paris, as well as more than 20 other sites. The Institute of International Education ranks BYU as the number one university in the US to offer students study abroad opportunities; nearly 2,000 students take advantage of these programs yearly. BYU's motto is "The World is Our Campus."
Eighty percent of the men and thirteen percent of the women at BYU have served as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with roughly half serving in non-English speaking regions. Seventy-two percent of the student body speaks a second language, and many faculty are fluent in at least one language other than English. During any given semester, roughly twenty-five percent of the student body may be enrolled in language courses—a rate three times the national average. BYU is renowned for its depth of foreign language and linguistic training, offering courses in 74 different languages (according to President Bateman, Fall 2002), many with advanced courses which are offered seldomly elsewhere. The multi-lingual student body proved to be a valuable resource for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
BYU's International Cinema is the largest and longest-running foreign film program in the country, showing 20 screenings per week to roughly 1,000 people. Its main purpose is to supplement the curriculum of the College of Humanities and the Honors Program with culturally and linguistically diverse films.
BYU's Department of Independent Study offers courses to nearly 500,000 students every year, many to students in countries outside the United States.
The BYU Ballroom Dance Company is known as one of the best formation ballroom dance teams in the world. The NDCA National Dancesport championships are held at BYU in March of every year, and BYU holds dozens of ballroom dance classes each semester, totalling thousands of students per semester, making it by far the largest ballroom dance program in the US.
BYU is home to the 1984 NCAA National Football Champions. The BYU women's cross-country team won the NCAA National Championship in 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2002. BYU has also won NCAA National Championships in golf, track, and men's volleyball (twice: in 1999 and in 2000). The school colors are blue, white and tan and its mascot is the cougar. Its primary conference is the Mountain West Conference; its men's volleyball team plays in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. BYU's men's soccer club participates as a university-owned franchise in the United Soccer Leagues' Premier Developmental League.