After installing Cecil O. Samuelson as Brigham Young University's 12th president Tuesday, President Gordon B. Hinckley of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said BYU is more than an experiment.
"Here we are doing what is not done in any other major university of which I am aware," said President Hinckley, chair of BYU's Board of Trustees. "We are demonstrating that faith in the Almighty can accompany and enrich scholarship in the secular. It is more than an experiment. It is an accomplishment."
He said the university must continue to strengthen its scholarship in every discipline and never let down its determination to teach faith in the Living God.
"Here character building becomes an even greater concern than imparting knowledge of secular subjects, although we shall never neglect this."
President Hinckley smiled at recent rankings in "The Princeton Review," which conducted a survey of 106,000 students and named BYU for the fifth year in a row the nation's number one "stone cold sober" university.
"You are regarded as the most religious student body in America," he said, and he also pointed out the university's number-two ranking for quality of life and its third place for the best college library.
President Hinckley urged faculty members to strengthen students.
"We should not have failures on this campus," he said. "We are more than teachers. We are shepherds. And we know that the spirit of shepherding resides in the hearts of those who serve here as members of the great Brigham Young University faculty."
To students, he said, "Mediocrity will never do. You are capable of something better. Give it your very best. You will never again have such an opportunity. Pray about it. Work at it. Make it happen."
President Hinckley advised students to look to President Samuelson as an example.
"He and his beloved companion, Sharon, have walked side by side with love in their hearts through all the years of their association. Make them your shining example."
While conferring authority on President Samuelson, President Hinckley thanked former BYU president Merrill J. Bateman and his wife Marilyn for their years of service.
"His was a wonderful and very progressive administration," he said. "We offer him the highest commendation for the tremendous work he accomplished."
Writer: Brent Harker