As an apostle in 1930, then-Elder McKay's strong educational talents were highlighted.
"He received his early education in the Huntsville schools, and when 20 years of age became principal of a school," the Deseret News reported on April 5, 1930. "He attended the (University of Utah) and graduated as president of his class in 1897."
In August 1897, he was ordained a seventy and served a mission in his father's homeland of Scotland.
"He returned in 1899 and became instructor in the Weber Stake Academy. Later, he became principal and held that position until 1908," the 1930 Deseret News stated.
As academy principal, he led students on a 1922 hike to the summit of Mount Ogden to establish a flagpole there in what became an annual trek up the mountain.
President McKay was called as an apostle in 1906 at age 32, and in 1919, he was appointed as the first commissioner of church education.