While Carl F. Eyring worked at Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1918, Brigham Young University President George H. Brimhall penned him a letter.
Brimhall told Eyring that the school from which he had graduated six years earlier needed his expertise in physics. At the time, BYU had no college designated to study science, but Brimhall promised Eyring that someday it would."(BYU) cannot be without you what it can be with you, as I see it," Brimhall wrote.
Eventually, Eyring did return to BYU, although he periodically took leaves of absence to return to Bell and to conduct other research. The nationally prominent physicist served as dean of BYU's College of Arts and Sciences for more than two decades, until his death in 1951.
Eyring also made a survey of the country's finest science research centers so he could advise BYU officials on how to build one of their own. Eyring dreamed of a building that would last 50 years.
With the Carl F. Eyring Science Center, first dedicated in 1950, the native of Colonia Juarez, Mexico, accomplished his objective. Eyring died less than three months after the building was dedicated.
On Tuesday, the building named for Eyring was rededicated after a two-year remodeling. President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offered the dedicatory prayer.
President Monson, along with Eyring's daughter, Elaine Rieske, restarted the Foucault pendulum in the foyer of the Science Center. The popular pendulum had been disconnected during remodeling.
"It's wonderful," Rieske said. "I feel like it's the first dedication again."
Rieske, who was present along with her father in October 1950 when the building was dedicated by President George Albert Smith, said she hopes the building will continue to be a place of learning for many students. Rieske remembered with fondness a religion class she took from her father in the late 1940s.
"He scared me to death," she said, recalling how her father wanted her to raise her hand so he could call on her to answer questions.
Eyring was most well known in scientific circles for developing several acoustical measurement processes, some of which are still used. But he also showed that physical labor is noble, President Monson said. One of Eyring's former students told President Monson that he watched Eyring help finish the concrete on the building.
"As we preserve this building with the help of our architects and engineers, you can see what a magnificent building was dreamed by Brother Eyring," said BYU President Merrill J. Bateman.
The building nearly didn't last the 50 years Eyring had hoped for. Several years ago, school officials realized the building no longer met seismic and safety requirements and other building codes, so they considered razing it.
"The question we had on this building was: Do we tear it down and start over?" Bateman said. "We found that it was so well built that we could save $10 million by just remodeling it."
In addition to presiding at the dedication ceremony, President Monson delivered a devotional speech to the BYU student body in the Marriott Center earlier Tuesday. He offered advice to students about serving missions, studying for a career, choosing a spouse and giving service.
"I recommend when you're studying for your life's work that you choose something you love because you're going to spend a lot of time doing it," he said.
President Monson told several humorous stories and kept the audience off-balance with a combination of candor and wit. Bateman later called the address "one of the warmest and most personable talks that (BYU students) have heard in a long time."
President Monson advised students not to get too caught up in their studies but to take time for social and church activities as well. That's just as much a part of being at BYU as work in the classroom, he said.
Several speakers at the dedication ceremony emphasized Eyring's kindness toward his students. Elder Henry B. Eyring, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Carl F. Eyring's great nephew, said the former BYU dean wasn't overly focused on his academic accomplishments.
"He was a great distinguished scholar who spent his life here in this place," Elder Eyring said. "He felt his greatest influence was in the lives of his students."
Carl F. Eyring graduated from BYU in 1912. He received a master's degree three years later from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate from California Institute of Technology in 1924.