Born on November 25th, 1865 in Salt Lake City, Joy Dunyon was appointed the founding principal of the academy in 1890.
Dunyon was attending school at Brigham Young Academy when he was approached by the principal of Brigham Young Academy, Dr. Karl Maeser, who asked him to take the position. Although fearful of the challenge, he accepted the position and arrived in the Gila Valley in October 1890.
Dunyon was instrumental in developing the first curriculum as well as recruiting students to the new academy. He organized the school and oversaw the college's first day of schooling in December 1890 as well as the school's first year.