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College of Humanities Celebrates 50 Years

January 2016


The word conversation sums up a central part of what we do in the College of Humanities, and 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of our college. We have chosen “50 years of fluency in the human conversation” as our theme for the commemoration.

Although conversation has come to mean dialogue, its original English usage connoted keeping company with others or becoming familiar with the unknown. Conversation also shares Latin roots with the word conversion, and both suggest adopting a new way of seeing and interacting with the world.

In the humanities we learn to see things in new ways, read unfamiliar texts and scripts, and come to know others as human beings and children of God rather than as stereotypes. We study how the variety of human accomplishment is shared across time and space using languages of all kinds.

You Are a Beneficiary

If you attended BYU within the past 50 years you almost certainly enrolled in some humanities class. Through that class, and in many other ways since then, you are a participant in the broader human conversation. You learned; now you share. You benefited from the spirit of generosity, and now you help others.

As a student you may have been the financial recipient of others’ generosity - through a scholarship or a study abroad experience. You may have benefited from an internship experience, made possible by a generous company, an unflagging faculty coordinator, or an excellent student who preceded you. Or your gift may not have been monetary at all - such as that unforgettable movie you saw in International Cinema, screened because of a suggestion offered by a faculty member, a fellow student, or an alumnus.

Perhaps the college added value to your writing skills through teachers willing to take the extra time and care to offer you helpful suggestions. Or your quality of life was enhanced by comfortable and clean spaces, including classrooms, corridors, or lounges, maintained by caring custodians and their student workers.

The college may have enriched you through stimulating lectures on research made possible by grants to faculty who went the extra mile or through a research experience funded by donors who had little idea of the impact they would have on a student assistant’s life plans. Or perhaps you had doors opened to entirely new worlds of conversation by faculty devoted to excellent language teaching.

Thank You for Giving

In all these cases, and many more, the College of Humanities is a nexus of giving, a place where we learn and grow through varied conversations. Thank you for your generosity in all its forms - for all you contribute to the ongoing human conversation.

Thanks to friends like you, the magnificent Joseph F. Smith Building has enhanced the academic and spiritual experience of thousands of BYU students for the last 10 years. Designed around a theme of light and truth, the donor-funded building was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley on September 20, 2005.

In his dedication President Hinckley asked that all who use the building appreciate those who made it possible. He designated it “a place for teaching and learning, for pondering and reflecting on the wonders of the world and the eternal verities of life.” The building is home to the university’s two largest colleges: the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences and the College of Humanities. It also houses two young single adult stakes.

President Thomas S. Monson presided at the building’s 2002 groundbreaking ceremony and said of its namesake, “Joseph F. Smith truly was a pioneer, not only in his trek across the plains, but also in setting the standard of love and of how we might follow the pathway to eternal life.”

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