President Cecil O. Samuelson and his wife Sharon welcomed students to a new semester as they spoke of the many things that are done at BYU and why they’re important at Tuesday’s campus devotional.
Referring to a 1999 talk by President Gordon B. Hinckley, President and Sister Samuelson spoke of how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ “great mission is to testify of Jesus Christ’s living reality” and why the Church sponsors BYU. They quoted Doctrine and Covenants 88 and spoke of the doctrine behind the Church’s support of education.
Mentioning this support, President Samuelson said, “We feel it appropriate that we should express some pleasure and comfort about this remarkable support and reassurance, but we also hope all at BYU feel the tremendous responsibility this entails for everyone so associated with Brigham Young University.”
President Hinckley said the university has brought much favorable notice to the Church. “And as generations of students move through its halls and on to graduation and then out across the world, they will bring honor to their alma mater and its sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said in 1999.
Sister Samuelson spoke of the students, saying, “For BYU to be the best it can be, the students who study here and represent the university in so many ways must also strive to be the best they can be.” President Samuelson added, “All of you students have been very carefully selected. Your excellence in academic achievement and potential are widely understood and at least as important in our admissions considerations is your ‘fit’ for BYU, meaning your willingness and capacity to meet and follow the mission and aims of a BYU education.”
President Samuelson spoke of the “devoted and committed faculty,” saying, “In virtually every discipline in which we are engaged, we now have professors and colleagues who have achieved broad distinction in their endeavors while keeping their primary focus on our tremendous students. Our mentoring efforts and successes, for example, have led to national leadership among universities in placing our graduates in the most outstanding graduate and professional education programs in the United States and abroad.”
The Samuelsons also spoke about “the responsibility to become a light unto the world wherever we can.” Sister Samuelson continued, “President Hinckley mentioned both our academics and athletics. In each of these areas, and others as well, we have continued to advance and, had we time today, we could list for you many successes and much recognition that have continued to bring acclaim to both BYU and our sponsoring Church.”
President Samuelson mentioned campus visits by people of prominence and the various prestigious conferences hosted by BYU. Sister Samuelson spoke of the various global outreach programs carried out by BYU and its students. She said, “All of these things are expensive and all are opportunities that bring friendship, gratitude, and recognition to and understanding of BYU and our sponsoring Church.” They further mentioned the opportunities provided by the Museum of Art, the Division of Continuing Education and BYU Broadcasting.
“Programs like Granite Flats, Studio C, American Ride, The Story Trek and others have a large following among our BYU and Church communities but also have attracted many not of our faith because of their wholesome quality,” Sister Samuelson said. President Samuelson added, “It is common for people to become aware of our Devotionals, General Conference and Tabernacle Choir broadcasts, scripture round tables and other Church-sponsored events while simply, at least initially, seeking just to be entertained.”
The Samuelsons concluded their talk by saying, “Hopefully, this brief account of why we do some of the things we do at BYU will increase both understanding of and appreciation for the opportunities and responsibilities we have as members of the Brigham Young University community.
“We know God lives and Jesus is the Christ. We, like you, feel honored and blessed to have the privilege of being involved in this great work. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
Writer: Stephanie Bahr