Jay Newitt, a former BYU professor, spoke at a forum held by BYU-Idaho’s College of Physical Sciences and Engineering on Thursday, Feb. 15 to inform students about his involvement in the reconstruction of the Provo City Center Temple.
Newitt taught construction management at BYU for 37 years and was head of the Construction Management Department for 18 years. Newitt and his wife, Sylvia, served as full-time construction service missionaries at the Provo City Center Temple. He is now retired.
According to University Relations, Newitt has a Ph.D. and has authored many publications including a textbook, which has been adopted by construction management programs at universities across the nation.
During the forum, Newitt spoke about the reconstruction of the Provo Tabernacle into the Provo City Center Temple. The tabernacle caught fire on Dec. 17, 2010, destroying it entirely. Newitt and his construction team converted the building.
“We repurposed and rebuilt the temple,” Newitt said. “God repurposes you into something better and stronger, that’s what we did with the temple.”
Sylvia reflected on the spiritual opportunity, saying many construction workers spoke with her about their individual spiritual impressions.
Faculty member Trish Gannaway organized the event. She organizes the forums, which happen every semester.
“We hold these forums to educate students and to give them a broader education,” Gannaway said. “We want to expose students to people in different fields who have done awesome things.”
The forum attracted students from numerous fields of study.
“This forum interests me because of my major and ‘from tabernacle to temple’ sounded cool,” said Jason Bowler, a freshman studying civil engineering. “I want to learn more about it.”
Among the audience was Maia Connor, a freshman studying communication.
“I came to the forum because I want to be better connected to students and I want to learn more about the campus,” Connor said.
Newitt spoke in detail about the conversion of the building while commenting on the spiritual aspect of the experience.
“The Provo City Center Temple was built so that it would resist the future forces, storms, tempests and calamities that may ever happen,” Newitt said.
Newitt said most unique to the project was the tremendous amount of teamwork required.
“I really hope through this presentation you really feel something and you have a better understanding about why we are here,” Newitt said.
Newitt said, as much as he loved being a service missionary with his wife, the spiritual experience is something he will never forget.
“We must remember that the laws of God and the laws of man are important but one is eternal,” Newitt said.