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  • Wow! What an impressive and inspiring sight to see all of you graduates gathered here today to celebrate an end and a beginning! You have entered and learned, and now it is time to go forth and serve. What exciting opportunities await you! I love BYU! BYU exists to provide an outstanding education in an atmosphere of faith. But I believe BYU also exists because of the opportunity it provides to connect us with others. I speak to you today on behalf of BYU’s Alumni Association. Our motto is Connected for Good. I want to share with you what I think that means. My dad and my mom met at B
  • Graduation ceremonies have been occurring at BYU since 1877; some have been more memorable than others. The graduation exercises of 1899 were unusual in several respects, especially when compared to the ceremonies we are holding today. The venue was smaller. It was held in the Provo Stake Tabernacle. And the procession was a bit longer. It went five blocks from the Academy Building to the tabernacle. The nature of the student achievements highlighted was also different from what we see today. We have students today who have worked on neonatal ventilators, NASA solar panel arrays, and the searc
  • I pray that the Spirit will be with us to prompt our thinking as we join together today. It is an honor for me to be with you. Having my nephew Mike play the organ and my grandchildren Ashlyn and Drew give the prayers just adds to the joy. Looking on the Bright Side Our son shared a story told to him by a teacher at BYU recounting a family’s experience while hosting an apostle in their home during a stake conference weekend. The mother was anxious to prepare things as perfectly as possible for their respecte
  • It is a pleasure to welcome all of you to our annual university conference and a pleasure to see you here. The past year has gone by very quickly—at least for me. That is a good sign. We often hear that time flies when you are having fun. As it turns out, studies confirm that that is true. One study noted that people experience time differently depending on what they are doing and how they feel about that particular activity. “Time consistently sped up when subjects were busy, happy, concentrating, or socializing . . . and slowed down . . . when subjects were bored, tired, or sad
  • Susan and I are delighted to meet with you as a new semester begins at Brigham Young University. I want to begin my message today by describing two important times of transition in my life that occurred on campuses sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first transition started in 1970 at BYU. I attended San Leandro High School in the East Bay Area of California from 1967 to 1970. It was a turbulent time, with anti–Vietnam War protests, political assassinations, and social upheaval. The Haigh
  • What a beautiful sight! It is a privilege to stand before an audience as full of promise and potential as this one. As president of the BYU Alumni Association, it is my privilege to hereby confer on each of you graduates lifetime membership in the Brigham Young University Alumni Association. I offer you congratulations and welcome you into this great association of more than 415,000 alumni. Our alumni association had an ad campaign prompting us to remember our time at BYU with the tagline “Remember when; remember why.” We all have a BYU story. Recently I asked
  • It is customary for speakers at a graduation ceremony to give advice to the new graduates, to share with them words of wisdom to inspire them in their next stage of life. Perhaps because such sage advice is in somewhat limited supply, much of what is said at these events has been said before and will likely be said again. With that in mind, let me give you graduates a two-part charge that I doubt you have heard in any graduation ceremony you have attended. First Charge: Be Awful The first part is a simple two-word admonition: “Be awful.” Yes, you heard right. My advice to you
  • What a beautiful sight! It is my privilege to stand before an audience as full of promise and potential as this one. As president of the BYU Alumni Association, it is my privilege to hereby confer on each of you graduates lifetime membership in the Brigham Young University Alumni Association. I offer you congratulations and welcome you into this great association of more than 415,000 alumni. Our alumni association had an ad campaign prompting us to remember our time at BYU with the tagline “Remember when; remember why.” We all have a BYU story. Recently I asked some of you graduates why you
  • What a pleasure it is to be with you this evening. It feels like I am back home. While I value all of our programs at the university, I will openly confess that the Law School holds a special place in my heart. It is a place that has greatly shaped my life, both as a student and as a faculty member. The Mission of BYU Those who have followed my tenure as president know that my focus from the outset has been on the mission statement of the university, a foundational document approved by the BYU Board of Trustees in 1981. It sets forth the key principles that guide the universi
  • Dear Elder Clayton, President Worthen, ­faculty, fellow students, and friends: two months ago President Worthen kindly informed me of an invitation to receive an honorary doctorate degree in recognition of “outstanding life and contribution to society and the world.” Aware that this is the highest honor that the university confers on individuals, I replied in my email, “With full appreciation in my heart, the only uneasiness in mind is whether I have done enough to deserve this singular honor.” Then my daughter exclaimed, “What? I always thought that honorary doctorates were given onl
  • Wow, graduates! You look great. I have never stood before an audience as full of promise and potential as this one. As president of the BYU Alumni Association, it is my privilege to hereby confer on each of you graduates lifetime membership in the Brigham Young University Alumni Association. I offer you congratulations and welcome you into this great association of more than 420,000 alumni. Our alumni association has an ad campaign that prompts us to remember our time at BYU with the tagline “Remember when; ­remember why.” We all have a BYU story. Recently I asked some of you graduates why
  • Congratulations to all of you newly minted BYU graduates! You have just graduated from one of the greatest universities in the world. My name is Terry Seamons, president of the BYU Alumni Association. One of my privileges as alumni president is to officially welcome all of you into the BYU Alumni Association. So I hereby confer on each of you lifetime membership in the Brigham Young University Alumni Association. Welcome to this great association of more than 407,000 living alumni. As you know, the mission of BYU “is to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life” (
  • Elder Snow, Elder Johnson, other General Authorities and officers, President Worthen, members of the President’s Council, other administrative leaders, faculty, students, friends, families, and guests, just one year ago, as I stood at this podium nearing the conclusion of my assignment here at BYU, I was quite confi-dent that it was the last time I would have the privilege of greeting and addressing a commencement gather-ing of this great and unique university. Obviously I was wrong about that, as I have been about some other things over the years. But I am glad that I came. I am particular
  • The program now calls for greetings by the president. Just what is really expected, however, is far from clear. One experienced president gave this sage advice to a new president about the role he should play at a commencement. “Think of yourself as the body at an Irish wake,” he said. “Your presence is necessary in order to have the party, but no one really expects you to say too much.” With that in mind, I would like to provide just a bit of context for today’s event. The first graduation from this institution came at a time before it was a university. Brigham Young Academy, as it was the
  • This is a magnificent building constructed to further the study of the life sciences. The size and function of the building show how far BYU has come in this academic area. What is now the College of Life Sciences first became a separate college at BYU in 1954 with the formation of the College of Biological and Agricultural Sciences. The first dean of the college was Clarence Cottam, who served as dean for only one year before accepting a position at a wildlife refuge in Texas.1 It is clear that Cottam left, in part, because his expectations for the new college were not being met
  • During his final address as principal of Brigham Young Academy, Karl G. Maeser gave this wise counsel: There are two periods in a man’s labors when circumstances seem to dictate . . . the advisability of making as few words as possible: they are at the beginning and at the end of his work.1 George Washington apparently shared the same sentiment, as his second inaugural address consisted of only 135 words.2 Following the example of these outstanding leaders, I will be relatively brief. I emphasize “relatively” because I am, by training, a lawyer—one of a gr
  • The theme of this year’s BYU annual university conference comes from Doctrine and Covenants 128, which is a letter written by Joseph Smith to the Saints in September 1842. It is in the form of a rhetorical question: “Shall we not go on in so great a cause?”—the implicit answer being, “Of course!”1 The particular cause that Joseph was addressing when he wrote this inspired epistle was baptism for the dead—a great cause indeed. The cause in which we are now engaged is a different one. Or, more correctly, it is a different part of the same great cause—the greatest cause of all—the o
  • SGS: Good morning! We add our voice of welcome to all of you at the beginning of a new year and new winter semester. While it is chilly outside, you exude a warmth that is both pleasant and encouraging. We join you in looking forward to an exciting and productive experience as we push forward to make 2014 one of our best years ever. Two years ago, in the devotional that began the 2012 winter semester, we spoke to the theme of things that we appreciate most about BYU. Some may recall that we mentioned our Mission and Aims statements, our Honor Code, and our opportunities to attend dev
  • As BYU Alumni president, I have been able to attend several commencement exercises, and I have noticed that graduates often experience a range of emotions. Perhaps you feel like this student who, some years ago, sent a letter to then President Jeffrey R. Holland stating: Dear President Holland: I am completing my undergraduate experience at BYU this month and will be graduating in our upcoming commencement service. My parents are relieved, my professors are surprised, and I am holding my breath. Things could go wrong, you know, even at this late date. [Jeffrey R. and Patric
  • In October 1975, President Spencer W. Kimball visited campus for the centennial celebration of Brigham Young University. As part of that celebration, President Kimball delivered a landmark address entitled “The Second Century of Brigham Young University.” His charge, as he stated in the introduction, was to share “thoughts and impressions [he had] concerning Brigham Young University as it enter[ed] its second century.”1 That was thirty-seven years ago. We are now a third of the wa
  • How Are We Doing? To the Faculty of BYU Once again, as we approach the beginning of another
 fall semester, it is my pleasure and privilege to welcome all of you here this morning. I am grateful for you who have retired and yet return to
 stay in touch with BYU; for those of you who have been here before, whether for one year or five decades; and especially for those of you just
 beginning your BYU career as a member of the faculty or staff. I trust all of you know that Brigham Young University is a very special place, and I
 am confident that if we are observant, whatever
  • In October 1975, President Spencer W. Kimball visited campus for the centennial celebration of Brigham Young University. As part of that celebration, President Kimball delivered a landmark address entitled “The Second Century of Brigham Young University.” His charge, as he stated in the introduction, was to share “thoughts and impressions [he had] concerning Brigham Young University as it enter[ed] its second century.”1 That was thirty-seven years ago. We are now a third of the way through the second century, and one could legitimately ask where we are in achieving President Kimball
  • The sight of this 
sea of blue robes is impressive and inspiring, and this collective vision is the evidence of your 
individual dedication and sacrifice. We recognize that your graduation today was not easily 
accomplished. But then, you did not come to BYU because it was easy. As the rover 
Curiosity begins the exploration of Mars this week, let us look back already fifty years ago, 
when President John F. Kennedy challenged the Rice University student body and the nation to seek 
new and difficult horizons. He proposed the conquest of literally reaching for the moon. He said:
  • What an impressive sight! I’m gazing out at a sea of blue caps and gowns—striking evidence of your success as students at Brigham Young University. I’m especially pleased to see Sharron Martin Kunz in your ranks. She started her degree forty-six years ago, interrupting her formal education to marry Calvin Kunz and raise four children. She always encouraged learning and helped support her family through eight degrees at BYU. Graduating from BYU is the fulfillment of a promise she made herself many decades ago. She has always loved Brigham Young University and what it stands for. She fostered
  • Elder Oaks, President Samuelson, distinguished guests, friends, family, and fellow graduates: Good afternoon. I love the word microcosm. Webster’s Dictionary says that it means “a little world”— some small reflection of a larger existence. I have thought, lately, about the many microcosms in my life: the “little worlds” that mirror my bigger existence. Our universe, I think, is a microcosm of something larger. And so is Earth. And so is Provo. And so, I think, is BYU. In the BYU microcosm, I was “born” in May Hall. When I was “growing up,” my friends and I enjoyed staying up late,
  • Graduates and all who rejoice with you on this occasion: I enjoy commencement exercises. These are happy times for graduates, for parents, for friends, for teachers, and for administration. These are times to acknowledge past accomplishments and take proud notice of goals attained. These are also times to take notice of potentials certified and to anticipate future achievements. Commencement exercises are also occasions to celebrate graduates’ progress from one status to another. That is what “commencement” signifies. It is a rite of passage, like a christening, a baptism, or a wedding rece
  • I am grateful for the privilege of celebrating this long-awaited day not only with those of you graduating but also with your teachers, supervisors, parents, families, and friends. They, too, have experienced great anticipation for what this rite of passage signifies for those of you who have achieved the recognition identified in the program of the day. We all add our congratulations and best wishes, which we will appropriately repeat not only today and tomorrow but also on occasion throughout your lives. It is a great honor to participate with all who are involved and have contributed to the
  • We welcome you this morning at the beginning of a new year and a new semester. We are grateful to be here with you and believe you feel the same way. SGS: We hope you have had very enjoyable Christmas and New Year’s holidays and now look forward to both the excitement and rigors of winter semester. We also hope that you haven’t yet completely broken all of your New Year’s resolutions! COS: We have now been at BYU in our current assignments for a few years—not long enough to have grown tired of this adventure but long enough to have developed some experience and also the abi
  • I would like to begin my remarks today with a word about my predecessor, John Tanner. For the past six years I have admired John’s love of learning, his loyalty to the university, his advocacy of faculty, and his principled approach to decision making. John mentioned early in his administration that his intent was to be an “academic” academic vice president. From my vantage point I found this to be absolutely true. The conclusion of John’s service marks the end of a wonderful period of university administration in the academic vice president’s office. Going forward there will be far fewer, if
  • As is usual at this great season of the university calendar, I share your excitement and enthusiasm for the start of another academic year filled with anticipation and expectation that the best is yet to come. I admit, as might some of you, a little regret at how quickly summers seem to slip away as we get a little older. Still, the changing of the seasons and the opportunities for new beginnings create for us feelings of exhilaration likely unmatched in other careers and occupations. What a wonderful thing it is to be involved in the life of a university, and what a signal privilege it is whe
  • I am honored to represent the Brigham Young University Alumni Association at these commencement exercises. I am especially grateful to be here to express my appreciation for this university and the personal joy my family experiences through having children attend BYU. Kathy Christensen, the recipient of a scholarship at BYU, thanked her donors by expressing this thought: I felt an intense gratitude warm my heart. There is nowhere else I would rather be. BYU has provided an environment in which I have been able to flourish. I have been challenged academically, pushed physically and str
  • Good afternoon. I feel honored and humbled to share a few words with you. How privileged we are to have attended this fine university. As we move forward, we cannot forget the great debt of thanks we owe those who have helped us get here—parents, friends, and loved ones, as well as the faculty, staff, and administrators of Brigham Young University. A special thanks to President and Sister Samuelson for their dedication and love in leading this university and to Elder Craig C. Christensen for speaking to us today. I knew that BYU was a unique university when I sat down for my first day of ca
  • I am truly 
grateful for this recognition. And thanks to all of you for your presence here today, especially to 
my family to whom I owe so much. I’m glad my brother Jim could play the organ today. He and I were 
roommates in Helaman Halls in 1968. With great talents, he is a brother I have always looked up to. 
Also, it is fun to be able to address you here in the de Jong Concert Hall. I remember ushering here 
as a freshman in 1964. My wife, Jeannie, and I have many good memories of dates and events here in 
this building. I’m so glad that she and I have been able to share such an abundant l
  • Once again it is my great privilege and honor to welcome each of you to these exercises today. I continue to bask in your achievements and am grateful to express my congratulations and commendations to you graduates, your families, and all who have contributed to your noteworthy successes. The faculty is both impressed and relieved that you have achieved the tremendous mileposts reflected in the program of the day. This class of graduates is rather typical of those of recent years in terms of your numbers, majors, ages, and other demographic characteristics. There is more than a fifty-year
  • I am honored to represent the Brigham Young University Alumni Association at these commencement exercises. And, I have to say, you are an awesome sight! My oldest daughter, Mackenzie, is graduating today, so I am especially grateful to be here to express my appreciation for this university and the personal joy our family experiences through having children attend BYU. Kathy Christensen, the recipient of a scholarship at BYU, thanked her donors by expressing this thought: I felt an intense gratitude warm my heart. There is nowhere else I would rather be. BYU has provided an environment
  • Congratulations, graduates. As we gather here this afternoon, I’m sure you are filled with thanks, as I am, to be in this unique setting with our faculty, family, and friends, and especially President Samuelson and Elder Scott. Indeed, we are the beneficiaries of a great educational inheritance. Graduating from BYU means continuing a legacy of learning established over a century ago. As we reflect on our accomplishments today, it is only fitting to acknowledge those who have provided us the scaffolding upon which we have built our personal houses of learning. For the past several years w
  • As is always the case at this wonderful time of year, I have the great privilege and pleasure of welcoming you to a new semester at Brigham Young University. I hope and trust you have had productive summer months and now begin this academic year full of enthusiasm, optimism, energy, and commitment to and for the opportunities and tasks ahead. I anticipate you are excited to be here because there is much about which to be energized and encouraged this fall term at BYU. More so than ever before, there are many who would love to be in your positions who are not able to be so. For some months I
  • Temple and School This year’s conference theme is drawn, as they so often are, from Doctrine and Covenants 88, the revelation that directed the Saints to build the Kirtland Temple and a school of the prophets. In 1977, then president Dallin H. Oaks described section 88 as “the first and greatest revelation of this dispensation on the subject of education.” He went on to state that this revelation, “which defined the objectives of the School of the Prophets and gave related commandments, counsel, and knowledge, is still the basic constitution of Church education. It defines Bri
  • Once again it is my happy privilege to welcome you to our annual university conference and to wish each of you an enthusiastic Happy New Year! While that statement would seem strange to those outside the academic tradition, for us this is the beginning of another new year in the university calendar. I’m excited for the opportunities that await us and hope you feel the same. For some of you, this is your first experience with us in this setting, and we are grateful that you have joined us. While you are fewer in number than in some years because of the economic realities we face, your import
  • I am honored to represent the Brigham Young University Alumni Association at these commencement exercises and hope the opportunity you have had to attend BYU fills your heart with gratitude. This university embodies sacred strength as part of the Lord’s work. Petr Ruda, a native of the Czech Republic who graduated last December with a degree in nursing, said: BYU makes me happy; it connects me to Heavenly Father—even by just walking on campus. This place significantly changed me, and I’m grateful to those who made it possible for me to come. [In “Nurse, Immigrant from Czech Republic
  • Graduates, families, faculty, brothers, sisters, and friends: It is a signal privilege to welcome each of you to Brigham Young University’s commencement exercises. We are gathered to celebrate, to honor you, and to reflect on what has been accomplished and what is yet facing each of you as your circumstances change and your lives encounter needed adjustment. We, of course, sincerely congratulate all who have achieved so much, often with distinction and frequently with challenges more significant than anticipated at the outset. In doing so, we also acknowledge the contributions of those whose n
  • I am honored to represent the Brigham Young University Alumni Association at these commencement exercises and hope the opportunity you have had to attend BYU fills your heart with gratitude. This university embodies sacred strength as part of the Lord’s work. Petr Ruda, a native of the Czech Republic who earned his nursing degree in December—and who is with us today—said: BYU makes me happy; it connects me to Heavenly Father—even by just walking on campus. This place significantly changed me, and I’m grateful to those who made it possible for me to come. [In “Nurse, Immigrant from Cz
  • Brothers, sisters, and friends, welcome to this year’s Annual University Conference. I trust you have enjoyed the summer—as they say, both days of it! Or, as many asked in the very rainy month of June, “What summer?” We hope all of you, including those who are here for the first time, are refreshed and full of anticipation for a wonderful and busy academic year. At the outset, let me tell all of you how grateful I am for you and for the way this community of scholars and saints has responded to our difficult economic season. My already high level of regard and appreciation has been signific
  • What an awesome sight! What a remarkable collection of personal accomplishment your presence here today represents! What a memorable feeling! I thank the university for the privilege I have to be here to share it with you. For you and your families, this is clearly a high point of your lives. Events of a few years ago helped me gain an appreciation for the high points of my life. My oldest daughter, her fiancé, and I decided to climb Mount Rainier. It was something I had thought about often as a young kid growing up in Washington State, where I could always see this snow-capped mountain at
  • Today as we gather for commencement, we come together with each of us wearing caps, gowns, hoods, and cords that signify different things. Someone with a trained eye can look at an individual’s commencement regalia and tell whether that person holds a PhD, a master’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree; the university that granted it; and even the person’s academic discipline. I’ve always been fascinated by the way we seem to understand and sort out our world through the symbols, colors, and cues with which we surround ourselves. We each tell a story about ourselves by what we choose to wear, wh
  • Fellow graduates, when I moved into my dorm room in Helaman Halls in the fall of 2003, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I certainly never dreamed I would be standing here in a blue, dress-like outfit, in a square hat, doing this. I thought, like most of my friends, that I was just coming to college. I would be here for a few years, get my degree, go somewhere else, and move on. I’ve gotten the degree, and I’m going somewhere else, but I will never be able to just move on—none of us will. We can’t just move on, because BYU has changed us; it has become a part of us, and we are conn
  • Today I shall bifurcate my talk between status report and message on the conference theme: “In thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:9). In doing so, I am reminded of a story from my father-in-law’s first tour of duty as mission president. When the assistants would introduce him and my mother-in-law to speak at zone conference, they would often say something like this: “Sister Winder will now give us an inspirational message. She will be followed by instruction from the president.” Always ready to see the humor in life and laugh at himself, my father-in-law began to refer to his wife as “the
  • Brothers and sisters, colleagues and friends, it is always a pleasure to meet together in the BYU Annual University Conference. Each summer at BYU has been for me—and I hope for you as well—a season for both reflection and refreshment. Not that it is entirely free time, because it is not. Life, with its many attendant responsibilities and tasks, goes on, and we go along with it. However, it is a time when some of the pace of fall and winter semesters slackens just a little and we—figuratively, at least—gird up our loins for the expectations and excitement of another academic year. Our theme
  • To those who graduated before you, you owe a debt of gratitude. Because they have used their talents and educations to add to the reputation of the university, you and I can take pride in associating the name Brigham Young University with our own names and reputations. We can write BYU with confidence on applications to graduate schools, on résumés, on job applications, or on paperwork for professional societies. The university has long been recognized for producing women and men of integrity. BYU graduates are known as outstanding employees, notable scholars, and respected leaders. You are
  • Graduates, families, brothers, sisters, guests, and friends, as we offer our hearty congratulations and commendations on this special day to those of you we honor in these exercises, I also want to add a few words of counsel and even caution. Before doing so, I wish to exert my special privilege in extending our warm welcome and greeting to all of you in attendance today. You honor us with your presence. Each graduating class at BYU possesses some significant commonalities with past graduating classes but also some characteristics that make it remarkable in its own right. Let me mention som
  • One of my favorite moments on this campus is graduation time, and one of the scenes I most love to observe is the graduates assembling on the lawn in front of the Smoot Administration Building. Decked out in their caps and gowns, they greet classmates and professors for perhaps the last time. The graduates are formed into lines, and then they march up the circular ramps behind the American and university flags. The administration, General Authorities, faculty, and other dignitaries who have led the procession then pause as the graduates file by. For me there has always been a special spi
  • My wife’s great-uncle and great-aunt are two of the kindest, most spiritual people I know, but financially their life together has often been less than comfortable. He worked as a schoolteacher, and she stayed home with the four children. From a fairly young age, the great-aunt suffered from various medical problems, and medical expenses put an almost unmanageable strain on the family’s modest income. One of their few possessions was a beat-up, unreliable old car. One day a woman unknown to the family arrived unannounced with the key to a new automobile, donated by an anonymous individual.
  • Once again it is our pleasure to welcome you to Brigham Young University at the beginning of winter semester. We have just finished a wonderful holiday season with the commemoration of the birth of the Savior of the World as our central focus and now enter a new year rich with anticipation and possibilities. We are grateful for those who have come back, just as we are for those of you with us for the first time. We are part of a truly remarkable community, and I am grateful for the blessing of being here. I hope and anticipate that the same is true for each of you. Recently some friends sha
  • Brothers and sisters, like me, you have undoubtedly noted the caliber of the devotional and forum speakers this semester. It may never again be equaled. From the introduction just read, you also know that I am not a prominent Church leader, a university president, a U.S. senator, a Supreme Court justice, or an astronaut. I will therefore request your prayers that what I say might be of interest and of value. Several years ago our son Spencer was interviewing with prospective employers as he prepared to graduate from BYU with a degree in finance. One large company invited him to Chicago f
  • BYU is built of brick and mortar. It comprises libraries and laboratories, classrooms and cafeterias, well-groomed grounds and cluttered faculty offices. It is built of impressive financial resources and of remarkable human capital. But, above all, BYU is and ever has been built of dreams and ideals. Our house of learning is also a house of dreams. In the early days of the Brigham Young Academy, the building that housed the school burnt to the ground. Many thought the fire signaled the end of the Academy. Reed Smoot lamented to Karl G. Maeser that the school had been destroyed. But Brother
  • Graduates, families, members of the faculty, brothers, sisters, and friends, it is a pleasure to be together with you on this special day of celebration. Of course we not only celebrate the signal achievements and accomplishments of this distinguished class, but we also gratefully acknowledge the contributions of so many of you who have assisted, encouraged, and supported these impressive graduates during their stretching years of study. Today we will grant a total of 2,513 degrees. Most are at the baccalaureate level, but 375 are master’s degrees and 36 are doctorates. As you will note in
  • Good morning, brothers and sisters. This is a real privilege for me to share my thoughts with you this morning. When Brother Skousen called me, I thought about any number of reasons why he would be calling. Giving a devotional talk was the furthest thing from my mind. But here I am. From the introduction you know that I was recently released as Primary president—one of the choicest positions in the Church. At this point I can guarantee you that doing sharing time in Primary is a lot less intimidating and stressful than standing before you this morning. Brother Skousen encouraged me to talk
  • I consider it a great privilege to welcome you to our Annual University Conference. For those of you who are with us for the first time, we extend a hearty welcome and hope that you will also be with us every late August as we prepare for another exciting academic year. For those who have retired, but still return, a special thanks to you for your loyalty to and continued interest in BYU. For those of you who have been with us for a season and expect to be here for yet another year or several years, let me thank you for all you do. I have been here long enough now to have an appreciation for w
  • Graduates, families, brothers, sisters, and friends, it is a wonderful privilege to be with you and witness the various expressions of excitement, elation, and anticipation for the future. I see in you relief that it is finally over and also mutual and reciprocal feelings of appreciation for each other and for special experiences that have been part of your BYU journey. We are certainly pleased to honor specifically all those graduates whose names are found in the program today, and we also pay tribute to and thank the many who have made these accomplishments possible. In this we include sp
  • It is my great privilege and honor to represent the Brigham Young University Alumni Association. I take personal pleasure in seeing Rachel Wilcox on the stand with me today. Her family is from Denver, and I am delighted that she is here to represent us and our fair city. Her uncle, Kenn Thiess, preceded me in this assignment more than a decade ago. Her family has a long and loyal heritage of support for this fine institution. It has been a very busy summer at the alumni association. On June 23rd, as President Samuelson mentioned, the university broke ground for the new Gordon B. Hinckley Al
  • Graduates, families, brothers, sisters, honored guests, and friends, as we offer our hearty congratulations and best wishes to those we honor in these exercises today, it is my most pleasant privilege to extend again our warm welcome and greeting to all of you. We are especially grateful for the presence of Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve and chairman of the board of trustees’ executive committee and Elder Robert D. Hales of the Twelve and also a member of the executive committee of the board of trustees. Elder Hales is conducting these services, and we shall hear from him l
  • I am honored to represent the Brigham Young University Alumni Association today as its 90th president. I am humbled by the potential of those of you here today and the great opportunities that lie before you. Fifty years ago, during a time in our history when Americans were living under the threat of atomic warfare and the possibility of Communist invasion, a journalist launched a radio series to bolster the confidence of all Americans. The show featured individuals from diverse walks of life—some were completely unknown and others were quite renowned. Each week they shared their persona
  • As I prepared for this talk, wondering what I might say or do that would make any lasting difference, I recalled the example of another Miltonist turned administrator. When the Renaissance scholar Bart Giamatti became president of Yale, he wondered: What was it that Yale needed most, wanted most, and would most contribute to solving our deficit, enhancing our quality, and making me a Manager? One night . . . , crouched in my garage, as I was trying to memorize the Trustees’ names . . . , it came to me, and I wrote, right there, between the lawnmower and the snow tires, a memo.
  • It is wonderful to be with you at the beginning of a new school year. This is my third opportunity to visit with you on the occasion of a university conference, and I approach this assignment and responsibility with gratitude to you, to many others, and particularly to our board of trustees for this privilege. I have spoken before about our vision, our antecedents, and also our future and will again do so today, albeit somewhat differently. My basic premise has been, and continues to be, that we are all engaged in the daunting and exhilarating adventure of helping BYU become the best it can be
  • What an incredible privilege it is for me to have attended BYU and to now serve both this university and its sponsoring organization. That said, I must acknowledge that being alumni president is not without its perks. One of those is being invited to sit in the president’s loge during Homecoming games. (Although, frankly, at times during the last few years, that has been the only thing fun about those games.) At one Homecoming game, running a bit late, my wife and I arrived just after the kickoff. People were still milling around, and, although still at some distance, we noticed that our se
  • When I first found out that I was to speak at commencement, I was really excited and naturally wanted to share the news with some of my friends. One of them happened to be chatting online with an old friend of mine from Singapore. He told her, “Val is valedictorian!” Her response? “Really? All my life I thought Val stood for Valerie.” What a great response. It certainly put things nicely into perspective. Let me begin by sharing a little experience with you. One Monday night when I was a freshman living at Deseret Towers, our family home evening activity consisted of making cookies fo
  • The First Presidency has extended to me this wonderful opportunity to conduct and provide remarks at the April 2005 commencement exercises. I am honored and privileged to be with all of you this afternoon. I bring the love and best wishes of the Church Board of Education and the Brigham Young University Board of Trustees. This board consists of the First Presidency; Elders Joseph B. Wirthlin, Richard G. Scott, and Robert D. Hales of the Twelve; myself; Sister Bonnie D. Parkin, general president of the Relief Society; and Sister Susan W. Tanner, general president of the Young Women organizat
  • Graduates, families, brothers, sisters, and friends, it is my most pleasant privilege on this special day to voice again my warm greeting and welcome to all of you and give my hearty congratulations to those we honor in these exercises. We are especially grateful for the presence of Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chair of the board of trustees executive committee, who presides, and for Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy and member of the board of trustees. We are appreciative of their support and contributions to BYU. We are also especiall
  • Like your parents—and probably like you when you are parents—our family has set certain standards in our home for ourselves and for our children. One relatively high standard in our home involves the privilege of driving. If our children meet certain criteria, they are allowed the use of their parent’s car. If the standard is not met, they know better than to bother asking. Do they complain? Absolutely. Do they have a hope of changing Dad’s mind? None! Some time ago I was dropping off my then unlicensed 16-year-old son at an early morning Saturday football practice. Now, although my sons ar
  • As I contemplated my theme for this talk, I was reminded of a clever cartoon that was published in the Daily Universe when I was a BYU student in the 1970s. It illustrated a part of our culture—the BYU experience—that we continue to share in 2005. The scene is the BYU campus. A BYU security officer is standing over a student who has been bloodied and bruised, apparently by several stones that lie next to him. The officer is dutifully taking careful notes. The caption reads, “And then I said . . . he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” My recollection is that Elder D
  • It is a privilege to gather with and greet you today. I look forward to our Annual University Conference because, in many ways, it signals the start of another academic year and the beginning of yet another series of special adventures here at BYU. For me a sense of time has always been a little tricky. It certainly is today. In some respects it seems that so much has transpired since we last met in this setting that it must have been years ago. Nearly a year ago I was formally installed in my current position after a summer’s “test drive.” We have had two more commencement exercises, gr
  • Graduates, families, brothers, sisters, and friends, it is a privilege, pleasure, and opportunity to be with you as we congratulate those we honor—including especially those who have sacrificed for and contributed to all graduates whose names we find in the program. We are especially pleased to welcome Elder Richard G. Scott, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. We are grateful for the presence of Sister Susan W. Tanner, Young Women general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a member of the
  • I appreciate the opportunity of being here today. Many of the defining experiences of my life were obtained here at BYU, on what I believe is hallowed ground. • I solidified my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. • I confirmed my desire to fulfill a mission. • I was introduced to my beautiful wife. • I was educated with the basics of my occupation. • I learned the importance of service to others. What an honor it is to serve this university and the students it graduates. In April I shared with the graduates an experience I had while I was a student on campus. Today I would li
  • If you could choose one season to live in permanently, which would it be? Honestly, living here in Provo the past few years makes it hard for me to decide. I grew up in La Cañada, California, convinced that there was only one season. Leaves changing colors and snow covering the ground were the stuff of fairy tales. Yes, I was one of the freshman herd from California and Arizona who gleefully galloped around outside the first night of snow and then froze the next day when we realized all we had packed for the year were shorts and sandals. Once I was safely bundled up in the jacket I had my moth
  • Graduates, families, brothers, sisters, and friends, it is my happy opportunity and responsibility on this special day to add again my warm welcome and greeting to all of you and my congratulations to those we honor. We are especially grateful for the presence of Elder Richard G. Scott of the Twelve and chairman of the executive committee of the board of trustees, who presides. His support, counsel, and occasional correction are most appreciated and greatly helpful. As always, we are grateful for the presence and constant encouragement and support we receive from Elder Henry B. Eyring of th
  • On behalf of all I wish to state our deep appreciation for the service of President Merrill J. Bateman, who presided here from January 1996 until April 2003. His was a wonderful and very progressive administration. We offer him the highest commendation for the tremendous work he accomplished and to his beloved companion, Marilyn, who stood so ably at his side. He was honorably released because we felt he had carried long enough the great stress of administering this institution while at the same time serving as a General Authority of the Church. He never offered a word of complaint. Unde
  • President Hinckley, officers, other members of the board of trustees, other General Authorities, auxiliary officers, government and education leaders, honored guests, students, staff, faculty, special friends, brothers and sisters, and family: It is an honor and privilege not easily described to stand before you this morning in these special circumstances. I am mindful of the significant sacrifices made by many of you to participate with us. Sharon and I will be ever grateful for your support and thoughtfulness. Likewise, literally hundreds of the university family have worked tirelessly to pl
  • Brothers and sisters, colleagues, and friends, it is a privilege and honor to gather with you today in this Brigham Young University Annual University Conference. It is a special occasion for me, being my first such conference in my new capacity. I look forward to the discussions, presentations, and recognitions while we are together. At the outset, you should know how much I appreciate the contributions made by all those who have gone before us. My gratitude is rapidly expanding as I see how strong the university is and witness the strides that have been made. Of course, my thanks most pro
  • A few short days after graduating, with my wife and a small son by my side, a degree in hand, and a determined resolve, I set out for Dallas, Texas. I was ready and anxious to make my mark upon the world of professional accounting. Behind me was the university—the campus and the environment that had meant so much to me. In front of me was the chance of my lifetime. Within days of beginning my first real job, a professional mentor put his arm around me and invited me to become involved with a BYU alumni group. He was an influential executive in the accounting firm for which I worked, and, fr
  • What an honor it has been to watch each of you in your procession here. In your faces one can see the excitement and anticipation of this commencement exercise. This moment represents the culmination of many activities over the last few years. From agonizing over the choice of majors to class enrollments, from all-night study sessions to tentative visits to the Testing Center, and from research projects to term papers, your efforts are now rewarded. While traveling this road you have experienced almost everything that a quality college education has to offer. B
  • On behalf of the board of trustees and the administration, faculty, and staff, we welcome graduates, family members, and friends to the April 2003 commencement. On this beautiful spring day, the graduates have reached an important milestone on a path that is never ending. Receiving a degree should not signal the end but the beginning of the learning process. It is a marker that indicates you know how to learn. This is an extraordinary class. Most of today’s graduates have participated in research or creative activities wherein they have explor
  • President Monson, Elder Eyring, President Bateman, President Samuelson, Brother Tingey, the board of trustees, faculty members, graduates, and my brothers and sisters, I am simply overwhelmed and deeply grateful for your kindness and consideration in finding me worthy to receive an honorary doctoral degree from Brigham Young University. Please know that without the constant support of my dear wife, Barbara, and my family, this honor could not be given to me. It is a special pleasure for me to be here with you, Pamela, as you are honored with the Presidential Ci
  • Sister Bateman and I are particularly pleased to welcome you to the new 2002–2003 school year at Brigham Young University. Normally the two of us share the podium during the devotionals. Because of a health challenge, Sister Bateman has asked that I represent the two of us today. We have been sweethearts for more than 40 years. Her experience during the last month has reinforced in my mind and heart how much she means to me and our family. Our prayers have become prayers of thankfulness. We are grateful that she is on the mend. We extend a special welcome this morning to more than 5,000 new
  • Brothers and sisters, each year I approach this assignment with some apprehension because I believe the Annual University Conference is one of the most important events of the year. It is an opportunity for the faculty, staff, and administration of Brigham Young University to gather together and reset our course, to synchronize our compasses. Since the university’s journey began well before we entered the scene and will continue long after we are gone, the directions set in these meetings are critical for us and for those who follow. I appreciate very much those in attendance today and hope th
  • Nothing so focuses the attention of those who work in a school as the knowledge that their students are about to arrive. On my first day of teaching in a university, I lost my appetite for breakfast. Heaven only knows what anxiety those who prepared the student housing and the bookstore and the classrooms felt. But this I know, from that first experience and the decades in education that have followed: You are all about to give laserlike attention to your tasks. Tunnel vision for you is not a weakness. At the start of school, it becomes a necessity. Just before we put our heads down to get
  • It seems only a short time ago that Brigham Young University completed its first century. Now one-fourth of the second century has elapsed. I remember the interest among the faculty and students in 1975 as the university celebrated the achievements of the first 100 years. Excitement surrounded President Spencer W. Kimball’s second-century address—an October 1975 devotional in which he provided guideposts for the future and spoke of BYU becoming an “educational Everest” ("The Second Century of Brigham Young University,” Speeches of the Year, 1975 [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1
  • Just a few months ago, Kent Crookston, our dean of the College of Biology and Agriculture, attended a conference with many officers of the Church and leaders of various businesses in which the Church has invested. President Hinckley was in attendance, and Kent happened to bump into him at a break. President Hinckley was very kind and jovial as they began to talk, but when he found out what Kent’s current assignment is, he went on the offensive. Pointing his finger at Kent, he asked, almost accusingly, “Why do we have agriculture at BYU?” Kent and his colleagues had been discussing just that
  • What a wonderful sight you are—students, faculty, and staff literally gathered from the four corners of the earth in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, wherein he said: And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. . . . Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.[Isaiah 2:2–3] You are gathered in the tops
  • In just a few months all of us will experience a first that is rare in the history of humankind. We will enter a new millennium. As we approach the end of the 20th century, the torch of enlightenment shines brighter than ever. The opportunity to learn of intellectual and spiritual truths has never been greater. It is now possible for the world’s population to read about the latest scientific discovery within hours of the event. It is possible for Church members anywhere in the world to access President Hinckley’s latest sermon within minutes of its delivery. The rate of discovery in the world
  • Sister Bateman and I approach the beginning of each school year with excitement as we greet 7,000 new and 21,000 returning students. We extend a special welcome to everyone, including more than 6,000 missionaries who have returned to campus during the last year. The safe arrival of each student is of utmost concern. Labor Day weekend, with many students traveling home and then returning, is of concern. Historically it is a dangerous time, as lives are sometimes lost. We are pleased to report that no accidents resulting in death have been reported as of this morning. At the beginning of each
  • The new millennium will begin January 1, 2001. By then problems associated with the year 2000 will be solved, and we will be looking forward to the completion of I-15, the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, and a new century. As Brigham Young University enters the third millennium since Christ’s birth, what will its future be? What are the forces that will shape BYU in the years ahead? What role will the university play in the kingdom? Will it become more or less important to the future of the Church? I believe there are four key factors that will determine answers to the above questions and s
  • I begin by expressing gratitude to the hundreds of friends who have prayed or sent messages of concern for my wife, June, who was the first lady of BYU for nine years ending in 1980. She was a great lover of BYU and its people and all its efforts. These prayers and messages were strengthening to her and to me. Many have asked how I am getting along since her death just over a month ago. I always answer, “As well as can be expected.” Thank you, dear friends. Your conference theme is “Neglect Not the Gift That Is in Thee.” One of the gifts that is in all of the workers of BYU stems from the d
  • My address today is related to the topic of strengthening marriages and families. It’s a topic I’m generally comfortable with. But I’m not comfortable—and not just because I feel inadequate to address this audience. Family has been a popular topic for speeches on this campus recently. Both President Bateman and Elder Eyring have recently addressed us on the topic of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (Ensign, November 1995, p. 102). A handful of other General Authority speakers have spoken on campus during the last few years about the importance of families. I’ve worried that we
  • Thank you, President Bateman, for that introduction. Thank you, Brother Wilberg, for that stirring music. It was wonderful. I think I’d like to be the drummer. Thank you, Ri Ho Nam. It’s nice to hear from you again. I first met Ri Ho Nam in 1960 when he was a little fellow in Korea. Now he’s a little fellow in Provo. We’ve had many interesting times together over there in the Land of the Morning Calm. I have a great regard for this, my friend Ri Ho Nam. My beloved brethren and sisters, what a wonderful thing it is to look into your faces, of the thousands and thousands of you who are here t
  • The quest for truth and knowledge is as old as time. From the beginning men and women have searched for truth in the hope of better understanding life’s purposes and to improve life. The temptation put before Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was that of knowledge. If they partook of the forbidden fruit from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Moses 3:16–17), they were promised: Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food . . . and a tree to be desired to make her wise, she . . . did eat. [Moses 4:11–12] J
  • I can imagine no greater honor or responsibility for a member of this faculty than to be privileged to speak with you for a few minutes in this capacity. In fact, for the life of me, I could not imagine why I was even considered for this opportunity until I received an interesting letter from KBYU informing me that the devotional addresses I gave in October 1980 and November 1981 would be rebroadcast in November. This was puzzling because I was a graduate student during those years, and I don’t remember giving any devotional addresses. But my grandfather gave wonderful addresses both years. Ma
  • For some reason, in spite of my fear and trembling about being in your presence with this responsibility, I have looked forward to the opportunity to address you for some time now. I have always felt, but now have a firm conviction, that this is the best faculty in the world. I feel your goodness and, even though I feel inadequate in my current appointment, I have felt sustained by the Spirit of the Lord and feel the evidence of the Lord’s hand more than I ever have at BYU. I believe that this has something to do with our moment in history. It may also have something to do with my vantage poin
  • Yesterday I sat in a living room with a family whose son was to drive to Provo today to begin his freshman year. He will likely park in a lot near Deseret Towers, take his bags through the door of his new dorm, and wear the smile of happy anticipation I saw as he sat near his parents in that living room. I could see his eyes shining with the thought of an exciting beginning. And I thought I saw the eyes of his mom and dad shining, too, but with the moisture that sometimes comes when something precious is about to end. That handsome young man and his parents extend to us remarkable trust. That
  • The events of the past two weeks have caused me to reflect deeply on the responsibilities inherent in the presidency of this university. Four years ago I received a charge to be an especial witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. This charge weighs heavily on me and extends to my role as president. In every way I wish to enhance the academic quality of this institution while achieving a balance between the sacred and the secular. In no way do I intend to diminish its quality or reputation. It is my responsibility to be an example of the standards set for Brigham Young University by the board, by th
  • Thank you for giving me a second opportunity to speak to you. As most of you may remember, I missed this assignment last year because of open-heart surgery. President Boyd K. Packer graciously took my place. You were blessed abundantly to receive his inspired message, “The Snow-White Birds” (BYU Annual University Conference, 29 August 1995). It seems that the message from President Packer, after his 34 years as a member of the Brigham Young University Board of Trustees, was destined to be given to you upon his release from this distinguished service. Although all members of the Twelve have a v
  • For many years I have been observing the great miracle the Lord is performing on this earth as he builds a Zion people in country after country. In July 1956 I traveled by train and ship from Salt Lake City to London, England, to begin a mission for the Church. Upon arrival I learned that approximately 15,000 members lived in Great Britain in fifteen districts. There were no stakes. In fact, the number of stakes in the entire Church totaled only 239, and all but twelve were in the western United States and Canada. Upon completion of the mission two years later, there were sixteen districts in
  • Thank you, President Lee, for your gracious and generous introduction. It is wonderful to be with all of you this morning. These weekly devotionals are a unique thing for a great university of this kind. I hope you take advantage of them. I do not say this because I am speaking here this morning. I say it because I believe they provide you with a remarkable opportunity for inspiration and the opportunity to share the minds and hearts of General Authorities of the Church and others who have matters of importance to bring to your attention. I can assure you that it is a great challenge to
  • I greet you tonight with the blessings and good wishes of the First Presidency of the Church, who serve as the officers of the board of trustees and represent them in this assignment. With the faculty, staff, and administration present, only the students are missing. It is in their interest that I have entitled my message “The Snow-White Birds.” A few days ago President Lee asked me to substitute for Elder M. Russell Ballard, who is recovering from heart surgery and is doing very well. President Lee urged me to reminisce about my years of association with Brigham Young University. My pre
  • A week ago last Friday I attended the 40th reunion of my graduating class at BY High School. During that evening and the all—BY High reunion the next night, I contracted a case of nostalgia that will infect parts of what I say today. Under our present circumstances I had hoped not to be too drippy about things, but my mind is subject to economic law: the bad thoughts always drive out the good. During our reunion one classmate, in an attempt to be kind, remarked that I hadn’t changed a bit. That troubled me a good deal. It was hard to think of myself as a half-gray, half-bald, tri-focaled, pot-
  • As I told you last year, I regard these Annual University Conference talks as the most important that I give each year. They are also the ones over whose preparation I agonize the most. This one is different only in that I recognize it will be my last. I appreciate more than words can tell the expressions of love and support that I have received from so many of you. I have also sensed, and appreciated, our shared objective that that these remaining months not be characterized by waiting, wondering, and winding down, and that our institutional mind-set be one of finishing strong. I especially a
  • I welcome the BYU community this morning as we begin another school year. I especially welcome those who are new among us. In many searches and circumstances, we have prayed you here, just as you have prayed about coming here. We who gather today in the Marriott Center are the largest part, but not the entirety, of the BYU community, whose members and influence now stretch into a far-flung empire that serves and blesses much of the earth. One evening a few months ago I spoke by phone to Noel Reynolds, who was participating in a conference of
  • Speaking to the faculty always frightens me, and so I have approached this task with the technique that I almost always use when I am scared—by putting it off. Thus, as always, you will hear thoughts that have been put together at the last moment. But the topic I will address has occupied my mind a good deal for the past year. It has been stimulated by events in my personal life that have required me to think quite soberly about how I spend my time and about my association with Brigham Young University. Because my personal experiences have stimulated my reflections, this talk will refer to the
  • I am so pleased to be with you this morning, and I extend to each of you my warmest welcome as we begin an exciting new school year. I have learned from our friends in Hawaii that the single word that expresses it best is “aloha,” a greeting which I extend to everyone, especially those who join us this year for the first time. I also understand that the word means both hello and goodbye. Accordingly, I extend a warm welcoming aloha to our two newest vice presidents, Alton Wade and Brad Farnsworth, and a fond farewell aloha to Dee Andersen and Ron Hyde, who have been wonderful colleagues and wi
  • I welcome the BYU community to this gathering. All of us come here each year in prayerful anticipation, seeking the renewal of our perspective and our commitments. I am especially glad to see those who have just joined the BYU staff and faculty. We need you and we welcome you. Among you new ones, I welcome Brad Farnsworth and Alton Wade to their respective responsibilities as administrative vice president and Student Life vice president. I’m also thankful for R. J. Snow’s willingness to accept his new appointment as Advancement vice president after having served in Student Life with exceptiona
  • Thank you for this privilege, especially after enduring me last night. May I begin by expressing not only my personal gratitude for your present service, but also my additional appreciation for all the efforts expended by you earlier in your lives to prepare for you faculty service here. I share the confidence President Hinckley expressed some months ago, saying: “I am confident that never in the history of this institution has there been a faculty better qualified professionally nor one more loyal and dedicated to the standards of its sponsoring institution” (“
  • Such a fall faculty meeting as this brings back pleasant memories of the excitement, laced with a little apprehension, of being a fresh faculty recruit. My heart goes out to the nearly 100 newcomers, with some sympathy for your mild anxiety, but far more with an enthusiastic welcome. We are delighted by your choice to join us. This university has a formal system to assure that you will have at least one mentor. But if you reflect on your lifetime in education, those mentors with the greatest impact on your growth seemed more to have been in that relationship with you by choice than by assig
  • I express personal appreciation to each of you for your presence here this morning. In many ways, this is our most important meeting of the year, and it is almost certainly the most important talk that I give. It is my one opportunity to share with our entire university professional family—staff, faculty, and administrators—my thoughts about the kind of university we are and ought to be, what we have done, and how we can do it better. I have been disappointed—even frustrated—over the fact that it is literally impossible to have continuing interaction with the some 4,400 people who carry out th