Phyllis Jacobson

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Phyllis C. Jacobson
No other person has done more to promote women's athletics in its early stages at Brigham Young University than Phyllis C. Jacobson. She was the catalyst for generating the funding and support for women's athletics, and the administrator who sent BYU's first female athletes to national collegiate championships. Additionally, she was the first Chair of the Dance Department, which had previously been housed in the Women’s Physical Education department.

Early Life and Education

Born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Jacobson obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Utah State University, followed by a Master of Science degree in Physical Education the next year.

After teaching for a time in Idaho and Nevada, she came to BYU in 1957 as an instructor in the Physical Education Department. She continued her graduate work at Penn State, and received her PhD from the University of Utah in 1971.


At BYU, Jacobson coached the women's golf team, the women's ski team, and the men and women's archery team.

She served as Chairman for Women in the Physical Education Department from 1972 to 1981. When the department was changed to Physical Education - Dance, Jacobson became the only chairman for the academic years 1981 to 1993. In 1993, department changed to the Department of Dance, and Jacobson was the department chair until 1996.

She produced the first aerobic television show for KBYU which was called "Hooked On Aerobics". It was a hugely popular show with viewers worldwide. She was the first person to come up with the concept that "aerobics is for everyone" and she had three teachers on the show performing three levels, low, medium and high so everyone could follow. It later won an award for being one of the most innovative independent study programs.

Jacobson was a member of the Governor's Physical Fitness Council of Utah, the National Olympic Academy Committee, and a delegate for the U.S. to the International Olympic Academy in Greece in 1979. She was chairman, president, and board member of several state, regional, and national physical education organizations.

A past member of the YWMIA and Young Women' General Boards of the LDS Church, Jacobson wrote six books and manuals, including Hooked on Aerobics, the book that served as the basis for the popular KBYU-TV program of which she was designer and creator. She also published several articles on physical fitness and quality living in professional journals, manuals, and LDS Church periodicals.

Jacobson passed away on 15 December 1997 from cancer.

During her time here, she personally helped many students with their education by giving them scholarship money donated by her. Above all, she believed that women should have an education.

Speeches and Publications

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