The inauguration of C. Shane Reese as the 14th president of Brigham Young University this Tuesday not only marked his formal induction to the presidency but also unveiled his commitment to help BYU fully reach its prophesied potential.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who also serves as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, was joined by President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who also serves as first vice chairman of the Board of Trustees, in the installation of President Reese.
After his official induction into office, President Reese spoke of his commitment to the university and the role of faculty and students in the prophesied spiritual mission of BYU. He reiterated what previous presidents and prophets have said about BYU’s future.
BYU is unique among institutions of higher education, in that it is founded, supported and guided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This makes the university privy to the guiding and revelatory hand of latter-day prophets, President Reese explained, including the frequently referenced vision of President Spencer W. Kimball, “The Second Century of Brigham Young University,” which articulates a powerful roadmap for BYU’s future.
“Our task is to become the university that prophets foretold — to become the world’s “greatest institution of learning,” “the fully anointed university of the Lord about which so much has been spoken in the past,” to become the BYU of prophecy and promise. This, then, is the challenge of our generation and the burden of my administration: becoming BYU.”
President Reese stated that becoming BYU will require enriching the student experience and strengthening our already student-centric approach.
“Each student’s eternal progression must remain our foremost concern,” he said. “To this end, we strive for every student to have an inspiring learning experience. Bolstered by gospel methodology, we frame these experiences by our conviction that each student is a child of God who can be bound to Christ as a child of the covenant.”
Along with several other campus-wide objectives, President Reese taught that becoming BYU will require the courage, at times, to stand alone.
“Like our colleagues at other religious institutions, we exert our strength only to the extent that we embrace and enhance our religious identity.”
Supporting research that advances the Church’s purposes and blesses our Father’s children directly will help lead BYU to its potential, said President Reese.
“This will include strategic investments in areas where we have natural strengths as a Church and as a university, furthering recent efforts regarding the family, religion’s role in human flourishing and constitutional government — each of which is rooted in Church doctrine and is strategically aligned with the Church’s global mission.”
Becoming BYU is a collective effort and will be determined by everyone on campus, not just administration. President Reese urged those in attendance to have the humility to regularly assess their progress in “becoming BYU” by asking themselves these questions:
1. Is the mission of BYU changing me, or am I trying to change the mission of BYU?
2. What might be preventing me from not only combining meekness with academic excellence but also cultivating meekness in a way that enhances my academic contributions through greater access to inspiration and deeper engagement with gospel methodology, concepts and insights?
Expressing his love and dedication to the faculty and student body of BYU, President Reese committed himself to seeking the guidance of the Lord and His servants, the prophets.
“As we embrace our unique institutional identity, we will foster at BYU a unique learning environment that will empower us to be peacemakers in an ever more divisive society.”
After President Reese’s remarks, Elder Christofferson spoke about navigating the future and the “many uncertainties of our times.”
“Leaders like Shane Reese will be needed,” Elder Christofferson said of the future. “I don’t know how often statistics will be needed or will play a helpful role in such leadership and decision making, but I know what will. President Reese expressed it in his response just now. It is, in the midst of uncertainty, to focus on what is certain — to maintain the eternal verities.”
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who also serves as vice chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, recognized BYU’s unique governance when stating that BYU is “founded, supported and guided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
“In coming to this role, your name, along with [Wendy Reese’s], was approved by the First Presidency and the full Board of Trustees of Brigham Young University,” said Elder Rasband, addressing President Reese. “We love you, we admire you, and we have confidence in you in leading this magnificent institution into the future.”
If you missed the inauguration ceremony, watch it on BYUtv.org.