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Inspiring Learning Medallion

Explanation of the INSPIRING LEARNING Medallion Elements

President Kevin J. Worthen first coined the phrase Inspiring Learning in his 2016 Annual University Conference address as the two-word summary of the BYU Mission Statement. President Worthen noted that the first collegiate diploma from Brigham Young Academy was given in 1881 to an exceptional student who had graduated from high school a year earlier – James E. Talmage. Talmage went on to be a beloved professor, a university president, author of Jesus The Christ, and an Apostle of the LDS Church. James E. Talmage was personally mentored by Professor Karl G. Maeser in the “highest . . . aim of any avocation in life.” Brigham Young had personally mentored Brother Maeser in the divine mission of the institution that would be his namesake and educational legacy – the school that began in Provo in 1875.


Y Mountain is the signature emphasis of President Worthen. He notes that mountains are “locations where people can be enlightened, uplifted, and changed.” The permanent location of the letter Y was carefully sighted-in by a faculty member and three students using a transit and telescope working from the Academy Building. The four of them also worked together on the mountain in 1906 to lay out the Y and achieve its proper size and dimensions. From the location of the Academy Building, there is no distortion to the block Y (as shown on the medallion). Therefore, this medallion commemorates our faculty and students working together to achieve their best work – mentored learning. Our founders did the same. They were personally mentored from one leader to the next. Together, we work toward “the balanced development of the total person” (BYU Mission Statement).

All proceeds from each medallion will be donated to the James E. Talmage Endowment to provide mentored learning opportunities to BYU students. Each medallion has a proof finish and is made 999 fine silver with a reeded edge.

Why Silver?

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BYU was built on proceeds from silver mining. Jesse Knight was a prospector in the southern part of Utah County in the late 1800s. One day while prospecting he heard a voice say “This country is here for the Mormons.” He followed that prompting and staked his claim on that spot and discovered silver ore that stretched for almost two miles in length. After that he bought other prominent silver mines in Utah – the Emma Mine in Little Cottonwood Canyon and mines in the Bingham district (Utah was the leading silver producing state from 1920-1932).

Jesse was always generous and giving – particularly to BYU. He felt that his wealth was given to him strictly “for purpose of doing good and building up the Church.” He built several of the first buildings on campus and helped with financing of others. He donated 540 acres of land to BYU (which now sits on 560 acres). He was Chairman of the BYU Board of Trustees for many years. He was affectionately known to all as “Uncle Jesse.” BYU is here, in part, because of Uncle Jesse’s kindness and generosity.