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1976 Horatio Alger Award Winner

Ernest L. Wilkinson*

President Emeritus
Brigham Young University

"There is more guarantee of security in the intelligent will, initiative, and determined independence than in all the laws that Congress can pass."

Born in 1899, Ernest Wilkinson grew up in Hell's Half Acre on the outskirts of Ogden, Utah. His father held two full-time jobs most of his life so that he could support his seven children. Wilkinson attended Weber Academy during his high school years, which later became Weber College. During the summers, he earned money by working on farms. After serving in the Army for a year during World War I, he returned to Utah. He enrolled in Brigham Young University, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1921. He taught English and public speaking at Weber College. He later attended George Washington University Law School, from which he graduated at the head of his class. He earned a J.D. degree at Harvard Law School. For several years, he practiced law in New York City and taught at the New Jersey Law School. In 1935, he organized his own law firm, Wilkinson, Cragun & Barker in Washington, D.C. In 1951, Wilkinson became head of Brigham Young University. Over 20 years, he built it into the largest religious university in the United States. Enrollment grew from 4,654 to 25,021. He resigned in 1971 to write a comprehensive history of the university.

* Deceased