Paying homage to all who have built Brigham Young University into what it is today, newly inaugurated President Cecil O. Samuelson said Tuesday that today's students and employees cannot be passive.
"We cannot neglect or be passive about either our environment of faith or our commitment to academic excellence," he said. "In all that we do, we want to bless our students by never allowing the balance between these fundamental basics to become tilted in any direction."
President Gordon B. Hinckley, world leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and chair of the BYU Board of Trustees, conferred authority on Samuelson in a brief inauguration ceremony.
All efforts at the university must focus on its students, Samuelson said.
"Our common commitment to and understanding of their growth and spiritual and intellectual development is the reason we exist as a university. There are many wonderful universities, and we applaud enthusiastically the great good they do.
"We will try with confidence to be as good as the best in certain, carefully selected areas. But we will not be detracted nor detoured from the fundamental 'charted course' that makes our mission distinctive."
Samuelson quoted Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ, as saying:
"LDS scholars can and should speak in the tongue of scholarship, but without coming to prefer it and without losing the mother tongue of faith."
He also recalled Brigham Young's counsel to Karl G. Maeser, the school's first principal, ". . . that BYU ought not to teach even the alphabet or multiplication tables without the Spirit of God" and also that members of the Church of Jesus Christ should "be a people of profound learning pertaining to the things of this world."
Samuelson thanked a large number of people for their contributions to BYU, including President Hinckley, members of the Board of Trustees, other Church leaders, "our spectacular students, able staff and administration, and our devoted faculty."
He remembered those who assist and enable the university by paying tithing to the Church.
"This includes the poor and meek who may never have the privilege of a direct BYU experience for themselves or their family members," he said. He also thanked leaders, friends and alumni who generously give to the university.
Writer: Brent Harker