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Ernest L. Wilkinson

Died when: 78 years 337 days
Star Sign: Taurus

 

Ernest L. Wilkinson Ernest Leroy Wilkinson (May 4, 1899 – April 6, 1978) was an American academic administrator, lawyer, and prominent figure in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He was president of Brigham Young University (BYU) from 1951 to 1971, simultaneously overseeing the entire LDS Church Educational System. He is credited with the expansion of Brigham Young University. Under his presidency, the student body increased six times to over twenty-five thousand students due to the physical growth of the university and his aggressive recruiting policies. The number of colleges at the university increased from five to thirteen and the number of faculty members increased four-fold. Wilkinson focused on recruiting more faculty and convincing current faculty to receive education outside the university. As a result, the number of teachers with doctorate degrees increased from 50 to 500. Associate and doctoral programs were created for Brigham Young University. The J. Reuben Clark library (now the Harold B. Lee Library) was built and library resources were expanded by 500 percent. The number of buildings on Brigham Young University campus increased from 6 to over 300 buildings, representing an increase in floor space of about 4.2 million square feet. He initiated the construction of various student housing options to accommodate over 6,000 students. Additionally, he increased the number of student religious congregations. During his twenty-year presidency, the number of congregations increased from 1 student branch to 98 wards and 10 stakes for LDS students. Under Wilkinson's presidency, the Brigham Young University Honor Code was more clearly established and was designed to include a strict dress code. Wilkinson was a strongly conservative Republican. He unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1964, while he was president of Brigham Young University. Prior to his career in education, Wilkinson was a lawyer in Washington, D.C. and New York City, his most well-known and lucrative case being a $32 million settlement from the U.S. government for the Ute Indian Tribes.
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