Back in July, the University of Utah football team signed a player out of California by the name of Joseph Smith. I joked that with his signing, and President Hinckley and President Monson’s status as alums of the U, that it was the “School of the Prophets.” (Joseph Smith had originally set up a School of the Prophets to teach the LDS leadership back in the Nauvoo days.) Well, it turns out that it’s no joke, and comes straight from the mouth of none other than Brigham Young!
I just finished Forgotten Kingdom, and I want to quote from page 261.
School of the Prophets
To implement a unified move in this direction, Brigham Young on December 2, 1867, resurrected an organization from an earlier period of his church’s history. He announced that day before an assembly of Mormon leaders that the University of Deseret, parent of the University of Utah, would be reorganized and “hence, it may properly be called the ‘School of the Prophets.'” [Deseret News, December 2, 1867. While Young considered School of the Prophets to be the proper name and role of the University of Deseret, the institution’s existing name remained the same. In 1872 the larger School of the Prophets was dissolved due to a lack of attendance and the inability of many to keep its affairs secret.] Since it was founded in 1850, the university had seen few students but served primarily to publish and distribute the Deseret Alphabet.
It’s all true. But like most universities in this country that began life as religious, sectarian institutions, the University of Utah has become a bastion of secular humanism and progressivism, two worldly philosophies that Brigham Young would find abhorrent. The lack of attendance in the School of the Prophets and inability to keep its teachings secret was symptomatic of that downward slide. So while the U of U may have begun life as a School of the Prophets, it is certainly a misnomer to allude to it in that manner today. (BTW, the same can be said of BYU, to be fair.
The funny thing is that everyone refers to BYU as the “Lord’s University.”