He studied under Wilson Dusenberry at the Provo Timpanogos Academy, where, as valedictorian, "for the first time I was applauded although my pants were patched." "My ruling passion has been to move men"s minds", said Brimhall, and his administration was marked by an emphasis on teacher training.
After graduating from Brigham Young Academy, Brimhall served as principal of Spanish Fork schools and then as district superintendent of Utah County schools, finally returning to Brigham Young Academy. In April of 1904, Brimhall became president of the school, which had become Brigham Young University in October of 1903. When Brimhall was about one year old the family moved to Ogden and they later moved to Spanish Fork.
As a boy, Brimhall was taught to love learning by his mother, his first teacher.
Brimhall was involved with the investigation of Ralph Vary Chamberlin, Joseph Peterson and Henry Peterson, who advocated evolution, biblical criticism and historical criticism. All three were forced to resign in 1911 over this controversy.
William Henry Chamberlin, Ralph Chamberlin"s brother, remained for another five years before resigning, when classes in philosophy, ethics, and psychology were replaced with additional courses in religion and theology. Suffering from chest and abdominal pain, Brimhall resigned the presidency of Brigham Young University in July of 1921, although he remained head of the Department of Theology and Religion.
Brimhall committed suicide on July 29, 1932.