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A Decade in Review at BYU

As 2019 wraps up, here's a look back at some big moments, important announcements, amazing inventions and fascinating research at BYU over the past decade.


New Spice

This video from the Harold B. Lee Library was an incredible parody of the wildly-popular Old Spice ad campaign at the time. It logged more than 2 million views on YouTube and was featured by CNN as one of the best viral videos of 2010. It's continued to garner views throughout the decade, now up to more than 3 million views.

BYU as a PhD launch pad


Important data was published in 2010 showing BYU's prowess as a PhD launch pad for its many undergraduate students. Nearing the end of the decade, this data still holds true, with BYU recently jumping to No. 5 for undergrads who go on to earn a PhD. Last year, five different BYU grads in five different PhD programs did #MyViewFromBYU Instagram takeovers to show their experience.

Sisters give siblings better mental health

brother and sister

This research out of the School of Family Life was the most read from BYU in 2010. Something about having a sister – even a little sister – makes 10- to 14-year-olds a bit less likely to feel down in the dumps. See reactions to the research from The New York Times, USA Today, CNN, ABC News and others.


Jimmermania in full swing

With Jimmer Fredette being named the college basketball national player of the year in 2011, Jimmermania swept the nation. The attention especially ramped up when Jimmer scored 43 points against Kawhi Leonard's San Diego State Aztecs in the Marriott Center in late January. Perhaps the true sign of Jimmer entering pop culture lore is the fact that his name has become a verb.

The most popular university in the country

In 2011, BYU was named the most popular university in the country based on yield rate. A yield rate is defined as the percentage of accepted students who go on to enroll. BYU topped the list in 2011 with a 76.9 percent yield rate, followed closely by Harvard with 76.5 percent and Stanford with 69.8 percent. BYU has remained in the Top 5 for yield rate throughout the decade.

Vocal Point on The Sing Off

After delighting celebrity judges and nationwide viewers, BYU’s Vocal Point concluded its run in NBC’s “The Sing-Off” as one of the final five a cappella groups. Ratings for the show averaged around 4 million viewers each week – by comparison, a BYU football game on ESPN can draw about 1.5 million viewers. Vocal Point has gone on to produce multiple major hits throughout the decade, including a rendition of Nearer My God to Thee with 25 million views on YouTube.

Zuckerberg visits BYU for forum address

Mark Zuckerberg at BYU

It was the early days of Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg visited campus, taking questions via Facebook during his forum address.


Helicopter parenting

helicopter parenting

The first in a series of studies from BYU professors on the dangers helicopter parenting was published in 2012, getting national coverage from USA Today and generating a lot of conversations online with important parenting implications.


Remember when Gangnam Style was a thing? In 2012 it became the first YouTube video to have 1 billion views. This photo of a costumed PSY performing the choreography in the JFSB courtyard was the highest-engaging #BYUHalloween pic of 2012. #BYUHalloween has become a much-anticipated BYU social media event year after year, with athletic director Tom Holmoe always doing something amazing and inventive students costuming everything from never-ending Provo construction to the fashion and styling which could only be that of a general auxiliary board.

The Freshman Y

The Freshman Y tradition started in 2011, but a time lapse of the creation of it became a thing in 2012 and has since become a staple of the New Student Orientation experience and a must-share on social media.


SuperMileage vehicle

A group of seven BYU engineering students built a lightweight, aerodynamic supermileage vehicle to compete at the SAE Supermileage Competition. The 99-pound vehicle, just big enough to fit one person, can get more than 1,000 miles per gallon of fuel.

Feeling sick makes us less social online

feeling sick online

A 2013 study from BYU found that while most of us go online regularly for help in diagnosing health issues, very few of us actually post information, questions or experiences on health topics. We post about eating, working, playing, hunting, quilting – you name it. Just about everything is up for public consumption … except our health.

Fireflies in Utah

Thousands of pyrotechnic, flashing fireflies made a rare appearance in Utah in the summer of 2013, evidence that these bioluminescent insects may be establishing larger populations in the west, according to Brigham Young University researchers. This video was the fifth most viewed that year and has continued to rack up views to become the sixth most viewed video ever on the BYU YouTube channel.


President Worthen becomes 13th BYU president

worthen first day

A new era of BYU history began in 2014 as Kevin J Worthen was named the 13th president of BYU. President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and vice chairman of the board of trustees, made the announcement at a Tuesday Devotional. President Worthen succeeded Cecil O. Samuelson, who began his term in 2003.

Superhydrophobic surfaces

BYU mechanical engineering professors Julie Crockett and Dan Maynes study of superhydrophobic surfaces grabbed a lot of attention in 2014. Viewers of this video especially enjoyed the visual of beads of water bounding off surfaces.

Scott Sterling!

Studio C's most viral video of the decade came via embattled soccer goalkeeper Scott Sterling. The sketch has 70 million views on YouTube, and ours isn't the only best-of-the-decade list it's a part of:


BYU professor draws attention to loneliness epidemic

In 2015, psychology professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad published important research tying the effects of loneliness to damaging physical health outcomes. She and her colleagues have since spoken of a current loneliness epidemic. The research has even led to a Minster of Loneliness position in the British government to address the loneliness epidemic in Great Britain. Holt-Lunstad's work continues to make an impact and be top of mind today.

Campus Drive redesign

campus drive
Photo by Nate Edwards

One of the bigger changes to the campus landscape over the past decade was closing Campus Drive between Heritage Drive and North Campus Drive, in an effort to increase campus safety.

Mangum-to-Matthews hail mary in Nebraska

The start to the 2015 football season was remarkable, to say the least. The last-second heroics from fresh-off-a-mission Tanner Mangum after Taysom Hill left the game with an injury is a moment Cougar fans won't soon forget.


Disney princesses not brave enough


This research on the impact of Disney princess culture on girls trended worldwide on Facebook and was covered by national and international news outlets. Researcher Sarah Coyne continues to field media requests on the topic, including a recent appearance on popular podcast Freakonomics.

BYU completes study on sexual assault and implements recommendations

President Worthen announced that the Advisory Council on Campus Response to Sexual Assault completed its study. The BYU President’s Council reviewed the Advisory Council’s written report and accepted all of the 23 recommendations, including five recommendations the university implemented immediately.

The study led to a campus climate survey that provided important findings about incidents of sexual misconduct, awareness of resources for victims and perceptions of the campus on this issue.

BYU announces final purchase and acquisition of Y Mountain Trail land

Y Mountain

BYU administrators finalized the purchase of approximately 81 acres of land on Y Mountain. The university now owns the full length of the Y Mountain Trail and the block Y, as well as the area around the Y.

BYU smokestack comes down

BYU's iconic smokestack, a staple of the campus skyline for years, came down in 2016 to make way for a better, greener alternative.

Liz Wiseman on campus

Liz Wiseman at BYU

BYU alum Liz Wiseman, founder/president of The Wiseman Group, delivered a powerful Forum address titled The Power of Not Knowing. Her remarks touched on leadership and knowledge and how we can put the two together to be the best asset in the work field. You can watch the full address via

Passing of LaVell

Legendary BYU football coach LaVell Edwards passed away in 2016. His legacy at BYU and beyond will be felt for a very long time. Just recently, ESPN named Edwards one of college football's top 25 coaches in its 150-year history.


Bulletproof origami

The farthest-reaching BYU research Facebook video of the decade, this work from BYU engineers creating an origami-inspired bulletproof shield, went viral and started a lot of conversation online.

Village drill

Another highly-impactful engineering project also went viral in 2017, with this village drill providing clean water to so many. As of 2017, 1100 drills were in 23 countries. Thanks to BYU's village drill, more than 1 million people will have clean water.

Caffeinated sodas on campus

Perhaps the highlight of the decade for some, based off of the thousands of social media interactions that flooded in, Dining Services announced in 2017 that caffeinated sodas would be served on campus.

Cosmo and Cougarettes go viral

While BYU fans have always known how cool Cosmo is, it was this performance in 2017 that made Cosmo internet famous. It even led to a performance later in the year with Ayo and Teo in the Marriott Center.

A win at Gonzaga

Behind 29 points from Eric Mika, BYU beat the No. 1 team in the country, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, 79-71 on the road to close out the 2016-17 regular season. Gonzaga has gone 41-1 at home, losing only one other time, since that BYU win in Spokane.

UTA passes for all

UTA bus at BYU

BYU announced that for the next ten years, current BYU students and employees — as well as their spouses and other dependents — will receive free UTA passes.

20 years Stone Cold Sober

stone cold sober

Year after year, BYU's celebrated being named the most Stone Cold Sober university in the country. To celebrate 20 straight years, BYU held a Willy-Wonka-inspired golden ticket campaign.


NCAA Common Ground at BYU

NCAA common ground

In 2018 BYU hosted the NCAA’s Common Ground IV, a forum to explore how representatives of LGBTQ and faith-based communities can work more cohesively in college sports and higher education, marking the first time the forum has been held at an NCAA Division I institution.

Rheumatic Relief in Samoa

In 2018, BYU students spent two-and-a-half weeks in Samoa screening children for rheumatic heart disease. Samoa has the highest prevalence of rheumatic heart disease in the world. The disease, which starts with strep throat and develops when rheumatic fever ensues and isn’t treated, can be fatal — especially for children ages 5 to 15. As part of BYU’s Rheumatic Relief program, students and faculty helped screen more than 6,000 Samoan children and literally saved hundreds of lives.

Better than a hologram

In the original Star Wars film, R2D2 projects an image of Princess Leia in distress. The iconic scene includes the line still famous 40 years later: “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” BYU electrical and computer engineering professor and holography expert Daniel Smalley has long had a goal to create the same type of 3D image projection. In a paper published in 2018 in top-scientific-journal Nature, Smalley details the method he has developed to do so.

Kanye almost tweeted BYU's slogan

Seriously. So close.

Cougars win at No. 6 Wisconsin

Nobody expected the Cougs to go into Camp Randall and jump around quite like this. The 27-24 road win over the No. 6 team in the country was a marquee victory of the Kalani Sitake era.

Women's volleyball in Final Four

Coming up short against No. 1 Stanford, the Cougs finished the season in the top four in the nation. They had a .939 winning percentage, the highest in program history. Led by head coach Heather Olmstead, the National Coach of the Year, the team featured Heather Gneiting, the National Freshman of the Year, and six All-Americans, a program record for a season.


Cougarettes go viral ... again

While the Cougarettes' hip hop routines had more their way around social media on a number of occasions, this jazz routine of theirs found mass appeal with nearly 4 million views after the Cougarettes racked up national titles in both hip hop and jazz categories at the NDA Collegiate Dance Championships. This video had an uncanny shelf life, with comments being posted to the video for more than 80 consecutive days.

Going forth to serve in Mongolia

BYU engineering students inspired many with their work in Mongolia, addressing a life-threatening air pollution crisis.

Arthur Brooks at BYU

This graduation speech from Arthur Brooks spread throughout Facebook, addressing an important issue of being able to disagree better.

Honor Code Office improvements

Over the span of several months, the leadership of BYU’s Honor Code Office met with students to address concerns that were raised over Honor Code Office processes. HCO Director Kevin Utt has implemented a number of changes as a result of those conversations and an ongoing review of Honor Code Office procedures.

President Nelson at BYU

For the first time as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson spoke in a Devotional address at BYU. He closed his remarks with an important blessing for the young people of the church.

Wins at Tennessee, against USC and Boise State

It was a football season filled with ups and downs, but there were some pretty incredible ups, including this last-minute catch by Micah Simon at Tennessee to set up an eventual overtime victory.

A soccer season for the ages

The Cougars went undefeated up until a Final Four matchup at Stanford, finishing the season 21-1-1, for the . best season in the program's 25-season history.

A BYU national championship

The men's cross country team won its first NCAA title in program history with an impressive showing in Terre Haute, Indiana. The team was ranked third in the nation coming into the meet behind No. 1 Northern Arizona and No. 2 Colorado, teams that edged the Cougars at the Mountain Region Championship eight days prior. Eyestone's squad beat the odds, defeating NAU – the three-time defending champions and heavy favorites – by a sizable margin of 54 points, 109-163. BYU was incredibly close to securing men's and women's national championships, with the women's cross country team finishing in second place in the women's final.

Best ROI in the country by Forbes

The investment of entering to learn at BYU is well worth it according to this ranking from Forbes. The Wall Street Journal's rankings also agree.

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