Franklin S. Harris
Franklin Stewart Harris was president of Brigham Young University from 1921 to 1945—the longest tenure of any president at the university.
He was born in rural Benjamin, Utah, on August 24, 1884. Both of his parents were educators. His father moved his family to Mormon colonies in Chihuahua, Mexico, where he taught at Juarez Academy. Franklin began his own teaching career at Juarez Academy in 1904, following one year of study at BYU. He taught until 1907 when he returned to BYU to complete his bachelors degree. He then earned his PhD in agronomy from Cornell University. He then took a position as a professor of agronomy and an agronomist with the Experiment Station at Utah State Agricultural College.
When Harris was thirty-six he was named president of BYU. During his long administration, he organized new colleges, added graduate and research divisions, traveled the world widely visiting universities and institutions, and lifted the university’s academic standing. He said, ”Behold the greatest university campus in all the world—in embryo. Truly the campus is the setting of what will undoubtedly be the greatest university in the world, a place to train for our leaders.”
After Harris resigned in 1945, he served as president of Utah State University until 1950. He authored nearly two hundred scientific papers.
He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as the branch president in Tehran, Iran, and served on the YMMIA general board for many years, among many Church callings. He served short-term missions in Japan and Syria.
He and his wife, Estella, were the parents of six children. He died on April 18, 1960.