“BYU Jerusalem Center Announced,” Ensign, Dec. 1979, 68–69
Brigham Young University will build a center in Jerusalem, Israel, by 1983, Church leaders have announced.
The multi-purpose, self-contained education and information complex was announced by Church leaders aboard a BYU Travel Studies cruise in the Mediterranean. The ship was sailing between Alexandria, Egypt, and Haifa, Israel, when plans for the center were announced and outlined.
Elder Howard W. Hunter, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, told those on the Travel Studies Eastern Mediterranean Air-Sea Peace Cruise that the center is an outgrowth of BYU’s Semester Abroad program in Jerusalem.
President Spencer W. Kimball, one of those on the cruise, added that “creation of the BYU Jerusalem Center has the full-hearted support of the university’s Board of Trustees.” He explained that the center will “stand as further evidence of how seriously the university believes its long-held assertion that the world is our campus.
“It will facilitate expansion of Middle Eastern Studies, including Arabic and Hebraic languages, archaeology, geography, philosophy, and current world events.”
Scriptural studies research and possible graduate studies will be enlarged “as we examine our own historical ties in ancient lands wherein are implanted spiritual roots of our own faith as well as the roots of Islam and Judaism, lands to which we come with love as friends and brothers,” President Kimball said.
The BYU Semester Abroad program has operated in Jerusalem since 1968. Some 160 students participate annually. The new Jerusalem Center will facilitate the addition of important educational programs to existing programs—including continuing education courses for adults, professional development programs for Church Educational System teachers, a near-eastern studies program (an extension of the Center for International and Area Studies now at BYU’s Provo, Utah, campus), scriptural studies programs, graduate work, archaeological research, and examination of historical and philosophical ties.
The two-acre complex will include classrooms, auditoriums, administrative offices, dormitories, and other facilities for students. Also planned are facilities for the Jerusalem Branch of the Church and a visitors’ center.
Elder Hunter said the architecture of the complex will reflect the culture and tradition of Jerusalem, while meeting the needs of the university and the Church members. It will be administered by the BYU Department of Travel Study under the Division of Continuing Education.
Tuition fees and Church funds will provide much of the funds needed to build the center. Additional support, through major philanthropic gifts, is needed from individuals. Fund raising will be conducted by the Development Office of the Church, which has facilities in Provo.