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  • “Go Forth to Serve”

    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 i
  • Your BYU Story

    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
  • 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
  • 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 addressi
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 addr
  • 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
  • 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 wi
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 jus
  • 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
  • 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, 
w
  • 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
  • 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 microco
  • 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 ex
  • 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 wis
  • 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!
  • 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 b
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 Samuelso
  • 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
  • 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 p
  • Wearing the Y

    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 rec
  • 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 refl
  • 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 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
  • Why BYU?

    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, thi
  • 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
  • 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 a
  • 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;
  • 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 o
  • 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
  • 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 fasci
  • Simple Truths

    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 g
  • 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 gi
  • 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 t
  • 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 profess
  • 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 pr
  • 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
  • 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 inc
  • 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
  • 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 an
  • 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
  • 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 graduate
  • 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 th
  • 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 thos
  • 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
  • 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 suppo
  • 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’ e
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 aga
  • 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 t
  • 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 int
  • 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, R
  • 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,
  • 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? Absol
  • 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
  • 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 las
  • 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 Execut
  • 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
  • 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 gallo
  • 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, counse
  • 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
  • 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 sacrifice
  • 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 con
  • 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 f
  • 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 hea
  • 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 ent
  • 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 foll
  • 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 gui
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 disco
  • 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 con
  • 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
  • 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 a
  • 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
  • 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 C
  • 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: Y
  • 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 rebroadc
  • 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 t
  • 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 th
  • 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
  • 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 h
  • 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 n
  • 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 o
  • 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 substitu
  • 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. Dur
  • 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 appreci
  • 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
  • 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. According
  • 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 p
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 h
  • I welcome the BYU community to the beginning of a new school year. Today is a day for candor, and I seek a particular interest in your prayers. That viola and piano piece by Johannes Brahms, just now exquisitely performed by Clyn Barrus and Mack Wilberg, was movingly beautiful. It occurs to me that this music also introduces my central theme. Shortly before he died, Brahms granted an intimate inte
  • Today I want to talk to you about the ownership of BYU. Who owns BYU, and what does this ownership mean? What are the privileges of ownership, and what are its responsibilities? If you look at it just from a dollars-and-cents standpoint, by far the largest financial interest in this university is held by the faithful tithe payers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their interes
  • My fellow members of the faculty, I appreciate this opportunity to speak to you for a few minutes as we begin a new academic year. This occasion gives me a chance to reflect for a moment on some of the things that I care most about in my own assignments at the university. I promise not to use all of the 1.5 hours allocated for this meeting, at least in part because I regularly remind myself of the
  • I first want to express my profound gratitude to Stan Albrecht for his recently concluded service as academic vice president. Stan is an honest and competent person who loves the Lord and this university with a passion. I will miss him. With equal intensity, I welcome Todd Britsch, whose personal gifts and lifelong commitment to BYU have prepared him fully for this day. As I think of the relief
  • At the beginning of my remarks I also wish to take the privilege of again extending my thanks to Stan Albrecht and Dennis Thomson. I recently reread the talk that Stan gave to us on this occasion last year, and I was struck once more with his insight and devotion. Stan gave as much of his energy to this institution as anyone could, and my admiration for him is deep and strong. I miss him very much
  • Let me begin with a couple of personal observations. The first concerns my health. I get enough inquiries from time to time that I know many of you are interested. I appreciate that interest. As confirmed by my principal oncologist in my most recent visit last month, my health is as good right now as it has been in several years. I am grateful to my Heavenly Father and to my wife and my doctors fo
  • From the time I started the first grade, the early fall season has always held a special fascination for me because it marks the beginning of a new school term. And now it’s here again, carrying the same set of pleasant reactions. With you, I look forward to this school year. For some of you this will be your first BYU experience, others are just returning from missions, and for many the next few
  • I have now served as your president for two years and two months, and this is my third university conference. I have enjoyed the experience immensely, more than I thought I would. Part of the reason is that for me this is more than another employment. It is an affiliation with an institution for which I deeply care and whose mission I am convinced is a very important one. Another reason the experi
  • This month marks exactly 20 years since I began to work at BYU. In that time, I have sensed a stirring vision of what this university is becoming. Parenthetically, that word “vision” makes me conscious of certain risks. At a football game in Laramie, a BYU fan was supposedly seated behind a Wyoming fan who was wearing a 25-gallon cowboy hat. The BYU fan couldn’t see the playing field because of th
  • It is a wonderful opportunity to be with you this beautiful autumn morning. It is a tremendous challenge to say something that will be helpful to you as you begin, for some of you, a new school year at this institution. For others, as freshman, welcome. First, I bring you the love and blessing of President Ezra Taft Benson, who serves as chairman of the board of trustees. As all of you know,
  • June and I are glad to be with you this evening. During our nine years at BYU, we always looked on these preschool dinners as a special treat, and we still have that feeling ten years after our departure. A lot can happen in a decade. A lot has happened in the ten years since we left BYU. In 1980 only a million Americans were using computers. Today it is over 50 million. Ten years
  • Over the past fourteen months, I have given more official speeches, by a substantial margin, than at any other comparable period in my life. In many respects, this one is in a class by itself, certainly in terms of intrinsic importance to the university. This is the occasion on which we, the stewards of the only four-year university sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, joi
  • There is one more award we need to make. A year ago I hinted at my need for help in understanding the term provost. From several suggested definitions, the winner of the 1990 “Define That Provost” sweepstakes is Art Bassett from the College of Humanities, who says that the term obviously means “the person most like Provo.” Now, whether you like that definition depends, of course, on how
  • I have chosen to title my remarks “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). How can a simple verse in the scriptures influence our present, future, and eternal lives and counterbalance the philosophies of the world? What is our vision of the world today and our vision of religion, and how does it influence and determine our responsibilities as individuals and families?
  • My beloved friends, it’s a very genuine pleasure and a great opportunity to be with you. It is always stimulating to look into the faces of so many young men and women. I pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I have now lived longer than the biblical three score and ten. To take a line from Psalms (90:9), I have spent my “years as a tale that is told,” and, as is common with older people, t
  • My dear brothers and sisters: Last week at this same hour we heard a message from the prophet of God. President Spencer W. Kimball gave us a message of love and admonition and challenge: he expressed his love for each of us, he admonished us to behave with integrity toward our commitments and to do what we know to be right, and he challenged us “to equip [ourselves] to be honorable, productive cit
  • Imagine the emotions I feel as I stand before you, my fellow students. You have come by the thousands to hear me speak. More thousands of your parents, grandparents, and friends are present by television. You are here through loyalty and faith that I will give you something of value. I am humbled by your confidence and totally dependent upon our Father in heaven to make me equal to this responsibi
  • My beloved brothers and sisters: It was almost eight years ago that I had the privilege of addressing an audience at the Brigham Young University about “Education for Eternity.” Some things were said then that I believe, then and now, about the destiny of this unique university. I shall refer to several of those ideas again, combining them with some fresh thoughts and impressions I have concerning
  • As I stand before this wonderful audience for a few moments to take some of your valuable time, I have no greater desire than to have that beautiful prayer uttered in my behalf by Dean Bateman realized. President Oaks has indicated that this is the first devotional for the season, and therefore many of you are probably here for the first time. I want to bear you my testimony that I don’t think the
  • Each year this annual President’s assembly is one of my greatest challenges. I feel responsible to give something different each fall. Now, as I enter my fifth year, I have already spoken on most of our major concerns, and these talks have been disseminated widely in print and on television. I have spoken on various aspects of BYU standards, on the meaning of a University education, and on the ble
  • I find that the writing of Brigham Young University Centennial History is in some respects more difficult than being its President for a period of twenty years. While President, I could, within limitations of the rulings of the Board of Trustees, make my own decisions and let others either praise or gripe about them. As historian, I have become the critic and appraiser of eight P
  • My dear brothers and sisters, I stand before you in great humility for the responsibility of addressing you on this occasion. I see your faces—thousands of them. I also see other faces: parents, alumni, tithe payers, Church leaders, the great and the humble friends of this university, and teachers and leaders of times past—all who have contributed to the great traditions of this university. These
  • Final Address

    There are two periods in a man’s labors when circumstances seem to dictate to him the advisability of making as few words as possible: they are at the beginning and at the end of his work. At the former occasion he may outline his work and make promises for its faithful execution, but behold, conditions arise, altering the first entirely or preventing the fulfillment of the second. The latter peri