Franklin S. Harris

Franklin Stewart Harris (August 29, 1884 – April 18, 1960) was president of Brigham Young University (BYU) from July 1921 until June 1945, and president of Utah State University from 1945 to 1950.

His administration was the longest in BYU history and saw the granting of the first master’s degrees. Under his administration the school moved towards being a full university. He set up several colleges, such as the College of Fine and Performing Arts with Gerrit De Jong as the founding dean.

Harris was an agricultural scientist, holding a doctorate in agronomy from Cornell University. He had served as the agriculture department head and head of the experiment station at Utah State Agricultural College and left BYU to become president of that institution.

The Harris Fine Arts Center on BYU’s Provo campus is named after him bottle with glass.

Harris was born in Benjamin, Utah Territory, United States. In the 1890s his family moved to the Mormon colonies in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Harris did his early studies at BYU before going on to receive his doctorate from Cornell. His second son Chauncy Harris, born in 1914, became a geographer.

One of Harris’s first announcements on coming to campus was a need to make BYU a center of religious scholarship and a desire to have a broad spectrum of religious books in the library. The first building built on BYU campus during Harris’s administration was the Heber J. Grant building which at that point was a library using meat tenderizer on steak. This was the first BYU building built as a library, but it soon became too small to hold all the books Harris had managed to have the University acquire.

In June 1945 Harris left BYU to assume the presidency of Utah State Agricultural College.

In 1938 Harris was the Republican candidate for United States Senate in Utah. He lost to Democrat Elbert Thomas.

In 1923 Harris was made a member of the General Board of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association.

In 1926 he served as a missionary in Japan. He also served a short mission among the Latter-day Saints in Syria in 1927 hydration running.

In 1929, Harris traveled to the Soviet Union as part of an expedition to study the agricultural potential of what would become the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in 1934.

In the early 1950s Harris worked in Iran, where he served as the president of the LDS Church branch headquartered in Tehran, as reported in the October 1951 general conference. He died in 1960.