ISPART Becomes Maxwell Institute

BYU announces that the Institute for the Preservation of Ancient Texts–the umbrella organization for FARMS, the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, the Center for the Preservation of Ancient Texts, and other entities–has a new name: the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. I doubt that the general character of that name is an accident, and I like what it portends.

60 comments for “ISPART Becomes Maxwell Institute

  1. A Nonny Mouse
    March 2, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    Nice. ISPART has been an eye-sore of an acronym for the last couple of years anyway!

  2. A Nonny Mouse
    March 2, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    Or CPART or whatever they’ve been calling themselves….

  3. March 2, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    now it’s NAMIRS. Flows much better.

  4. March 2, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    A Nonny Mouse: CPART is one of the units under ISPART, which was partly responsible for the fact that no one could figure out what ISPART was.

    john f: “Maxwell Institute” is better than any acronym.

  5. Mark B.
    March 2, 2006 at 5:02 pm

    One hopes that they’ll avoid the army tendency and skip the acronym in favor of something nice (that would also honor the man) like “The Maxwell Institute.”

  6. Mark B.
    March 2, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    Guess I should have refreshed the page before posting that.

  7. D
    March 2, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    “‘Maxwell Institute’ is better than any acronym.”

    Unless you like to be succinct.

  8. March 2, 2006 at 5:21 pm

    If you wish to be succinct, an acronym is better than “the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship,” but it isn’t obviously better than “Maxwell Institute,” which is, I’ll bet, what everyone will call it.

  9. Ben H
    March 2, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    Cool! Quite tasteful. And the name is immeasurably broader in connotation than previous names of such organizations. It will take some time for the institution to grow into a broad name like that, but I like the direction it suggests.

  10. Mark B.
    March 2, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    I hope you’re right in that predication, Jim.

    Of course, I keep hoping that the administration building at BYU will be called what so many have called it for years, the Smoot Office Building, or SOB for short.

  11. March 2, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    Man… the cult of personality continues… and now we don’t even have the decency to wait until they’re dead.

    * bristles *

    I love Elder Maxwell. I even love BYU… but this is insane.

    It’s almost as bad as giving a “person of the year” award every year to a member of the Twelve or the First Presidency.


  12. March 2, 2006 at 6:29 pm

    Silus Grok: The last I heard, Elder Maxwell is, in fact, dead.

  13. DKL
    March 2, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    Yes, Silus, I agree. Why “The Maxwell institute”? Why not “The Greg Call Institute” or “The Julie from Austin Institute” or “The Kristine Haglund Harris Institute” or “The Russell Arben Fox Institute” or “The Ben Huff Institute” or “The Frank McIntyre Institute” or “The Kaimi Institute” or “The Nate Oman Institute” or “The Matt Evans Institute” or “The Jim F. Institute” or “The Rosalynde Welch Institute” or “The Melissa Proctor Institute” or “The Adam Greenwood Institute” or “The Wilfried Decoo Institute”? Where’s the church’s sense of fairness?

  14. March 2, 2006 at 6:40 pm

    Oh man… I actually knew that… but for some reason it just didn’t register.

    The rest of my snark stands, though.

    ( Now where was the recent building named after President Hinkley? )

  15. A Nonny Mouse
    March 2, 2006 at 6:41 pm

    Jim F: CPART is one of the units under ISPART, which was partly responsible for the fact that no one could figure out what ISPART was.

    I know. :) I could have sworn it was ISPART, but after I posted my first comment, I went and checked all over their websites to find something about ISPART but could only find CPART… So, unsure of myself, I reposted to cover my tracks.

    The embarassaing part is that I’ve been a FARMS member, an avid FAMRS reader, have walked by the CPART offices and know a couple of people who work for them, I’ve read all the press-releases and I still couldn’t ever figure out what to call the whole thing. I stuck with FARMS. Much more succinct and easier to pronounce. Who cares if it doesn’t really cover all of the different aspects of what they do :)

    Oh… And I think Maxwell Institute is an excellent shorthand.

  16. March 2, 2006 at 6:42 pm

    DKL: though I don’t understand/resonate with the practice of naming everything in sight after a GA, I at least appreciate the aptness of the choice of Elder Maxwell’s name being chosen.

  17. A Nonny Mouse
    March 2, 2006 at 6:46 pm

    President Hinckley gets the new $30 million dollar alumni house named after him… Or at least, so says the letter I got from BYU asking me and the Nonny Spouse to donate to the effort last week. It was addressed to both of us, but started with, “Dear BYU Alumnus,”

  18. queuno
    March 2, 2006 at 6:47 pm

    I love the fact that the Hinckley Alumni Building at BYU (or whatever it is) is named for a man who is, in fact, not a real alumnus of BYU (honorary degrees notwithstanding).

    Sidebar: After Rex Lee passed away, one of my CS professors, who served on a campus construction committee, told how Lee continually shot down the idea of a parking garage on campus with the line that “a parking structure would not be built on the BYU campus in [his] lifetime.” Now that Lee had passed away, this professor joked that now was the time to proceed with the Rex E. Lee Memorial Parking Garage.

  19. Ben H
    March 2, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    A Nonny Mouse, I don’t think you are primarily to blame for the confusion about ISPART! Nowadays, what is an institution without a website? It hardly exists. Rather, there is,, and No Did I miss something? Plus, what is the soul of an umbrella organization over those three programs? Now there is an “umbrella” name that is human enough that they might be able to make a website for it! It is a bit tricky, though, because those three, at least, are still different enough that it might seem a bit odd to put them up as the three first branchings of a Maxwell Institute website.

    I will watch with interest as they work out how to arrange the furniture under the new emblem.

  20. Kaimi Wenger
    March 2, 2006 at 7:16 pm

    Dave (13),

    What I want to know is what poor Gordon Smith did to get left off of your strange list.

  21. March 2, 2006 at 7:19 pm

    Sidebar: After Rex Lee passed away, one of my CS professors, who served on a campus construction committee, told how Lee continually shot down the idea of a parking garage on campus with the line that “a parking structure would not be built on the BYU campus in [his] lifetime.� Now that Lee had passed away, this professor joked that now was the time to proceed with the Rex E. Lee Memorial Parking Garage.

    Cute, it would make a fitting legacy.

  22. queuno
    March 2, 2006 at 7:38 pm

    I think it’s time for the Bloggernacle to petition BYU to fix some of the blatant prophetic naming omissions.

    Here are the institutions at BYU named for prophets of this dispensation:

    Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center
    Howard W. Hunter Law Library
    Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute
    Ezra Taft Benson BUilding
    Spencer W. Kimball Tower
    Harold B. Lee Library
    David O. McKay Building
    George Albert Smith Fieldhouse
    Heber J. Grant Building
    Joseph F. Smith Building
    Joseph F. Smith Building Parking Garage
    John Taylor Building (Comprehensive Clinic)
    Brigham Young University
    Joseph Smith Building

    Here are those that are without namesake:

    Joseph Fielding Smith
    Lorenzo Snow
    Wilford Woodruff

    So I call on the bloggernacle to pick some worthy buildings for these three. I think the Missionary Training Center (nameless) should be renamed in honor of Wilford Woodruff — call it the Wilford Woodruff Memorial Missionary Training Center. I think that for a young missionary, starting his mission at “The Woodruff” is cooler than “The MTC”.

    Some of the other notable unnamed buildings at BYU include the Museum of Art, the BYU Bookstore, the Earth Science Museum, the Indoor Practice Facility.

    Here’s a list of the buildings of campus (the campus map):

    Suggestions? In addition to Snow, Smith, and Woodruff, we also have to “save” buildings to be named for the recent BYU presidents without a building namesake (Oaks, Holland, Lee, Batemen).

    Here are mine:

    Wilford Woodruff Missionary Training Center (a great missionary)
    Lorenzo Snow Bookstore (opening the windows of heaven)
    Joseph Fielding Smith Foreign Language Student Residence
    Dallin H. Oaks Faculty Office Building
    Jeffrey R. Holland Creamery
    Rex E. Lee Parking and Traffic Services Building
    Merrill Bateman Indoor Practice Facility (both represent the decline in BYU football)

  23. Frank McIntyre
    March 2, 2006 at 8:01 pm

    I work in the Faculty Office Building. I love being in that building. But I am pretty sure that it would be no compliment to name it after a general authority. It is old, ugly, and full of economists.

    And although I am not keen on naming everything in sight, I do like the Maxwell Institute one.

  24. March 2, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    Ben H: I don’t understand your comment. The furniture is already arranged under the new emblem. The emblem changed, but the furniture didn’t. The new emblem may open up what can be done in FARMS, etc. It may make possible some new entity underneath (though I wouldn’t bet on it). But I don’t think there’s going to be any rearranging of the entities that are there.

    queno: Does the parking garage attached to the new J F Smith Building count (3 levels of underground parking)?

    Silus Grok: It is a little disconcerting that it seems like half of the buildings on campus have some variation of the name “Joseph Smith.” Non-member visitors get easily confused. But other than dead General Authorities, who would you have the university name its buildings after? University Presidents? I like DKL’s suggestion, but I don’t think it is going to get past the Board of Trustees.

    And you’re right about the irony of the alumni building being named after someone who isn’t an alumnus of BYU–and on top of that, it violates the long-standing policy against naming buildings after living persons. I understand that President Hinckley was not happy about the decision, but as he has said in public, he doesn’t run the Church.

  25. March 2, 2006 at 9:29 pm

    Frank: I was a resident of the Faculty Office Building right after it was built around the restrooms and press boxes for the original BYU stadium. For a few days its name was “Stadium Office Building”–until someone realized what the acronym would be and what that would mean for campus mail. This was after the Smoot Building was built, but I don’t think anyone actually thought of calling the Smoot Building by its proper acronym. I think it was ASB from the beginning.

  26. DKL
    March 2, 2006 at 10:25 pm

    Kaimi, it was merely a scribal error. Please extend my apologies, and feel free to edit my comment to include “The Poor Gordon Smith Institute.”

  27. March 2, 2006 at 10:36 pm

    Jim: Most universities name their buildings after prominent donors.

  28. March 2, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    I was at Carnegie Mellon University when they renamed their business school from the Graduate School of Industrial Administration to the Tepper School of Business. It was a pretty easy decision once he donated $30-50 million I think. Compared to that, the Marriott School was a bargain (I thought I heard somewhere in the $10 mil. range, don’t quote me on that; I think it’s in the public record somewhere…). So it’s hard for me not to think dollars and sense here—surely there are wealthy BYU alumni who would be willing to make a similar type of “donation”….

    But then, I’ve heard BYU would generally like to maintain autonomy in a way that doesn’t gel well with these kind of name-contingent donations. Can anyone who knows more about this shed any additional light on these issues and policies at BYU? Or does anyone else want to wildly speculate? How about other religious universities? Is this an issue for public universities?

  29. March 2, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    Silus Grok: No kidding?! And that’s better?

    I don’t think BYU has a policy against naming buildings after donors. After all, there are two prominent exceptions, both with the same name. And if someone wants to donate big bucks and wants their name on a building, so be it. They have their reward. But the people who put up big money for the Joseph F. Smith Building (as well as for the school of music, super computers, etc.) seemed to be happy without having a building named for them. More power to them.

  30. March 3, 2006 at 12:13 am

    BYU also has the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, which was renamed within the last few years.

  31. queuno
    March 3, 2006 at 1:33 am

    Re 24 – My understanding Lee was opposed to an above-ground parking structure. According to my professor, one of the proposals was to gut the law school parking lot and build a structure. Of course, the law students wanted it built over by the Tanner Building. Another proposal was to ban vehicles from on-campus residents and open up the DT, HH, and Heritage parking lots to normal people. Lee routinely said, “it’s not a problem, it’s not a problem, we have other priorities”.

  32. March 3, 2006 at 1:36 am

    XiGauss: Thanks for reminding me of that one, a third exception.

    I don’t know whether the Fultons (the donors I was referring to in my previous post) wanted the school of engineering named after them or whether that was something that BYU decided to do. In any case, they have been extraordinarily generous and don’t seem to have insisted on having their own building.

  33. March 3, 2006 at 2:41 am

    Since my “dollars and sense” comment (#28) came out wrong, let me state my opinion that I think there are deep issues at stake when institutions of higher learning and base funding are not sufficiently buffered. (I think this is a pretty good current example of some dangers involved.)

    Also, in addition to not taking the high road personally, donors who leave names on buildings or schools can inflict an association that isn’t always desirable—here and here are associations I’ve felt personally….

  34. Ronan
    March 3, 2006 at 9:46 am

    Does BYU have any buildings named after women? (FMH-spouse talking!)

  35. Justin
    March 3, 2006 at 9:57 am

    I’m a bit surprised that ISPART didn’t become the Nibley Institute for Religious Scholarship.

  36. March 3, 2006 at 10:39 am

    Yes. A number of the buildings in Heritage Halls are named after women.

  37. Kevin Barney
    March 3, 2006 at 10:55 am

    A few clarifications:

    1. It is my understanding that the short form of the name will indeed be the “Maxwell Institute,” and not the acronym, which seems to be the position people here are favoring.

    2. ISPART was the umbrella organization. FARMS, CPART and METI were underneath it, sort of like divisions in a corporation. My understanding is that President Bateman rattled off ISPART (the “Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts”) off the top of his head when the need for such an umbrella organization was felt. It was always sort of a stopgap, temporary name. The name “FARMS” specifically refers to Mormon Studies, but a lot of what was being done was not specific to Mormon Studies, and a more generic name was needed to cover these other activities. (“FARMS” of course was famously coined by John Welch and his buddies while driving to work in California one day. It was kind of a weird acronym for a scholarly foundation, but it was memorable, so it has stuck.)

    3. I don’t have any confirmation of this, but my working assumption is that, for the time being, at least, FARMS, CPART and METI will continue to operate under those names as parts of the Maxwell Institute.

    4. The FARMS building on the edge of campus will henceforth be known as “Maxwell House.”

  38. Ronan
    March 3, 2006 at 11:03 am

    “Maxwell House” is the name of a coffee-brand in England. LOL!

  39. March 3, 2006 at 11:11 am

    Ronan (37): also in the US

  40. Jonathan Green
    March 3, 2006 at 11:12 am

    I protest. When I made that joke yesterday, my comment either got deleted or disappeared into the ether. Either the T&S staff, or fate, has no sense of humor and is conspiring against me, or both.

  41. henry
    March 3, 2006 at 11:21 am

    Maxwell Institute works but how bout MIRS?

  42. Ken
    March 3, 2006 at 11:57 am

    From the time that I was at BYU (early 80s) I been hoping the Dairy Products Laboratory/Creamery would be named after Thomas B. Marsh.

  43. Julie M. Smith
    March 3, 2006 at 12:45 pm

    Jonathan Green–

    Yes to all of the above.

  44. John Mansfield
    March 3, 2006 at 12:49 pm

    “… it violates the long-standing policy against naming buildings after living persons …”–Jim F.

    Did this policy come about after the Tanner Building, Kimball Tower, and Benson Building? Because of them?

    The College of Engineering and Technology has the Clyde, Crabtree, Fletcher and Snell Buildings. I assume W.W. Clyde and the Crabtrees were donors. Snell is my favorite kind of naming for a school building, that to honor a dedicated teacher. There are a few such buildings on the BYU campus. The Martin Building is the first that comes to mind.

    At Johns Hopkins, Rowland Hall, named for that school’s first professor of physics, was renovated extensively in 1990. Zanvyl Krieger paid for the renovation, and guess what the building is called now?

  45. Mark B.
    March 3, 2006 at 12:50 pm

    Jim, I think you’re right about the ASB being that from the beginning. I don’t think Ernest Wilkinson had much of a sense of humor.

    Frank (23) gives three good reasons why the FOB should be razed.

    Jim (25)–I remember those few good days when there were two SOBs on campus. Well, two brick and mortar SOBs. No census of flesh and blood SOBs was ever taken, but they far outnumbered the brick and mortar type.

    I’m glad that Rex Lee fought the building of a parking structure on campus. Since the university has already paved over acres of good land up near the Marriott Activities Center (that name lasted for about a week, until someone realized that the “Big Mac” was a product sold by a competitor of some of the Marriott family businesses) and the Lavell Edwards Memorial Temple of Sweat and ACL Injuries, some have suggested getting rid of all parking on campus and running shuttle buses from those lots onto campus. Even when made by people in the administration, those suggestions have gone nowhere.

    My son-in-law graduated last May from the Carver School of Medicine at the University of Iowa. That’s a great name for the prospective surgeons–kind of makes you wish that carving up bodies was the origin of the name. But, alas, we do sin in our wish–it’s just the name of the Iowa tire magnate that gave millions of dollars to the school.

  46. Mark B.
    March 3, 2006 at 12:55 pm

    W.W. Clyde was the owner of a construction company in Springville that did major road/bridge/etc. construction in Utah. I don’t know if the company gave a lot of money to the engineering program, or what.

    Another building named after a dedicated teacher is the Nicholes Chem Stores building. Given his effect in laying the foundation of the chemistry department from the 30’s to the early 60’s, it’s a shame that the new chemistry building is not named after him. He deserves more recognition than having a lab supplies building named after him.

  47. Nate Oman
    March 3, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    One could always adopt MIT’s solution, and do away with names entirely and simply assign numbers to the buildings. As I recall being told by some MIT geeks who occasionally wandered down to the nice side of Cambridge, the buildings on the MIT campus actually do have names, but the students prefer to refer to them with numbers.

  48. Nate Oman
    March 3, 2006 at 1:22 pm

    I agree with Robert about some of the difficulties of being associated with names. I was interviewed by one law school named after a democratic politician of exceptional blandness. There would be a burden to bear. I always thought it was kind of funny that Langdell Hall — the law library at Harvard — is filled hundreds of volumes attacking Langdell’s jurisprudence and not one volume defending it…

  49. Bill
    March 3, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    I believe the Monte Bean museum was also named after a donor

  50. Bill
    March 3, 2006 at 1:43 pm

    The Knight Mangum building, now the home of History, Social work, and Music Dance Theater was named for Lucy Jane Brimhall Knight and Jennie Knight Mangum, sisters-in-law who were lifelong friends of the university

  51. Ben H
    March 3, 2006 at 2:39 pm

    Jim, I wasn’t really suggesting that the furniture needed to be rearranged–except maybe the way they set up their web presence? I was being a bit light-hearted about the confusion, but only that. My point was not that ISPART has no soul! Rather, that it is not obvious from superficial acquaintance what ISPART’s soul is, and I suspect the basic nature of the Maxwell Institute will be different from that of ISPART–more than an umbrella organization–in a few years. Of course, maybe ISPART doesn’t care too much whether a lot of people know about *it*, as long as they know about CPART, METI, and FARMS–this is in fact what their web presence suggests. A great many of the users and audience of any one of these will have no more than superficial interest in the others, and that is just to be expected.

    I was suggesting, though, that there might be some new furniture down the road. The name is just plain broader, and I would love to see some new things go on under it that haven’t been done under ISPART, but that would be timely and fitting for a BYU entity to take up.

  52. Ben H
    March 3, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    Well, they might rearrange the website! (as much what I had in mind as anything) or even the administrative structure, without drastically changing the existing component institutions.

  53. Edward A. Erdtsieck
    March 4, 2006 at 9:11 am

    Thanks to all who contributed to the discussion.

    I enjoyed that light-hearted banter and learned a few things, but most of all it was the humor, that was sprinkled throughout, that kept me in laughter.

  54. Mark Pickering
    March 5, 2006 at 7:26 am

    Isn’t it strange, though, that the organization is being named for someone who didn’t ever have anything to do with preservation of ancient texts?

  55. March 5, 2006 at 11:24 am

    It is old, ugly, and full of economists ouch …

    BTW, the Clark family made a real effort to get a number of buildings with the name “Clark” on them renamed to other names. I took a Latin class from JRC III and he was quite vocal about his goal. Thus, the HBL library and the renaming of the law school library.

    I always thought that an Eliza R. Snow theological institute would be a nice place.


    On parking. Gene Jacobs was probably a stronger voice on the topic.

    BYU has a lot of parking if you are willing to walk ten minutes. By the standards of many campuses in California, that isn’t bad at all. Parking structures are expensive, compared with flat lots. A structure would result in parking lots that would be in demand by faculty and would otherwise cost about five to seven times as much for permits and such, unless a donor built the entire thing. Getting a donor to build a parking structure has not been a thankful task.

    I’d like to see a multifloor structure with the top a classroom/plaza combination. CSULA (CalStateULosAngeles) had some of those when I was there.

    It was kind of like replacing parking lots with plazas, grass and teaching spaces — while getting more parking spaces.

  56. March 5, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    By way of an update on BYU parking: Does anyone know how long the parking lot under the new Joseph Smith building has been functioning? I thought it just opened this fall, but maybe I’ve just been out of touch. I’ve never parked there, but it looks like it’d be convenient during a bad winter.

    Barring any big change in plans, they’ll be adding on to the TNRB to the west (I’ve seen preliminary drafts for this), and building some sort of parking structure to the north (of the TNRB, though I haven’t seen any plans for this); and the old seniors’ MTC building on Bulldog is well on its way to becoming a student parking lot (I don’t think they’ve poored the concrete yet, but it’s been steam-rolled and prepped…).

  57. March 5, 2006 at 5:52 pm

    Mark Pickering (54): I think that is because the Institute isn’t solely devoted to preserving ancient texts. FARMS, for example, doesn’t do that, but it was under the ISPART umbrella and remains under the Maxwell umbrella. I also assume it is because they plan to expand their goals in some way.

    Robert C. If I recall correctly, the JFSB parking garage has been open since some time last summer. It is handy in bad weather, but it fills up full before 8:30, so you have to be among the early to get a space in it. However, it frees up a great deal of space in the Jesse Knight parking lot, which is very close to a lot of buildings. That has been one of its benefits.

    Stephen M: You’re right that people at BYU often complain about having to walk distances that people at other campuses would be happy for. Such complaints are always relative. The underground parking at the JFSB was a natural and since they were already digging the hole for the building didn’t add a huge amount to the cost of the building, but I hope they don’t decide to spend money on parking structures independently.

    Robert C: I’m surprised the university would build a parking structure next to the Tanner Building when the Jesse Knight lot, directly across the street is rarely full.

  58. jonathan
    March 7, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    “I think that is because the Institute isn’t solely devoted to preserving ancient texts. FARMS, for example, doesn’t do that…”

    Probably true, but I think one of FARMS’ primary concerns is to make sure that certain sacred texts are perserved AS ancient texts.


  59. Rocky
    March 9, 2006 at 9:03 am

    Mark Pickering (#54): The HBLL’s manuscript archives is called the “L. Tom Perry Special Collections.” Do you think L. Tom Perry ever set foot in an historical archives?

    The story goes that Sam Skaggs, who made the big donation to found the archives, insisted on attaching Perry’s name.

    The only thing stranger than a misnamed building is rejecting big $ just because Mr. Rich has a quirky request.

  60. John T.
    March 11, 2006 at 11:06 am

    The original post reads more accurately this way:

    ……the umbrella organization for FARMS, the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, the Center for the Preservation of Ancient Texts, and other entities–has a new name: the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. I doubt that the general character of that name is an accident, and I like what it pretends.

    The shorthand reference could be “Maxwell House”…..

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