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BYU at Nauvoo will close in April

'Prudent to discontinue' after 12 years; BYU thanks faculty, director and staff

Brigham Young University will close its Semester at Nauvoo Program this April, BYU officials said Feb. 1.

"At this time, BYU and its Board of Trustees believe it is prudent to discontinue the Semester in Nauvoo program," said a written statement from university. "The university is very grateful for the many volunteer faculty, directors and staff who have made this program possible. It is also appreciative of the kind manner in which the students have been received by the Nauvoo community. The Winter 2006 Semester will mark the conclusion of the program."

Officials have not announced whether the program will be reinstated at a future date or will be discontinued permanently, said Carri Jenkins, university spokeswoman.

BYU's Semester at Nauvoo began during Winter Semester 1994, when a small group of students and volunteer faculty lived in the homes that missionaries used during the busy summer months. Classes were held in the LDS Visitors Center.

Housing for the program was made possible following the 1998 purchase by the Church of the Catholic monastery and the adjacent St. Mary's Academy building. During winter semester of 2000, students and faculty moved into the building — which contains dorms for about 120 students, faculty apartments, a full-size gymnasium, exercise room, classrooms, office, faculty office complex, library, study hall, a full-service kitchen/cafeteria operated by BYU Food Services, computer labs, recreation room and student lounges.

The facility also houses offices for Nauvoo Restoration Inc., and the Nauvoo Stake Family History Center.

However, the old building, now a Nauvoo icon, is aging.

Evan Ivie, a retired BYU professor and Semester in Nauvoo director, said "A large facility like this is always in need of maintenance."

Sister Jenkins said university officials have not announced what the university will do with the building, after the program ends in April.

The 1999 announcement by President Gordon B. Hinckley that the Nauvoo Temple would be rebuilt fueled growth in Nauvoo and interest in the BYU program. Enrollment in the BYU program peaked a couple years ago with 146 students attending. However, that large number strained resources and BYU officials determined to limit enrollment to 120, said Brother Ivie. About 120 students attended last fall, with 86 there currently.

About 1,200 students have studied in the program over the past 12 years. They studied LDS Church history, early American history and literature, and the teachings of Joseph Smith. The travel study experience also includes field trips to Church history sites in Palmyra, N.Y.; Kirtland, Ohio; and Carthage and Springfield, Illinois; and Missouri.

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