Address to LDS Business College
June 22, 2010
grateful for the chance to speak to you today. And thankful to my assistant,
Moises Correa, for his help creating and running the technology side of what I
want to share with you today.
couple of months ago my son, who is about your age and a recent graduate of LDS
Business College, made a comment that caught my interest. He said he wished
he’d known more about the College while he was still a student here. He then added,
“I know I would have appreciated being there more if I had realized what I had.”
I’ve thought several
times about that comment, and because of it, choose to share with you today a
few stories that will tell you how and why you are sitting in this room, on
this campus. And by the end of our time together, I suspect you will have a
greater understanding of, and appreciation for what you have here.
collection of yearbooks, journals, photo albums, and other materials are kept
in my office, and those are the resources I’ve used for what I share today.
I’ll start with a
couple of questions. First, do any of you know how old this College is?
(Students only—faculty and staff, you can’t answer). Or, do any of you know
when the College was founded, or organized?
Well, here’s a hint:
Can someone tell me when Utah became a state? (I realize not all of you are
from Utah, but give it a guess.)
Utah gained statehood
in 1896. And here’s the interesting part: In 1896, LDS Business College was
already 10 years old. By then, many students had already graduated from the
College. Remember that.
Fire in the Bookstore
Now, I’m going to ask
the staff and faculty to be patient…I want to share with you a story about the
very first meeting of those who founded LDS Business College. They’ve already
heard it….but you probably haven’t.
In 1886, a man named
William B. Dougall believed that the youth of Salt Lake City should have a
school of their own—an Academy, as it was called back then. So he contacted
several of the citizens of the city and they chose a day and a meeting place—a bookstore
owned by James Dwyer.
How appropriate, don’t
you think, that they held a meeting to plan a college of learning… in a
bookstore. It wasn’t a harness shop or a mercantile or a blacksmith shop—it was
But here’s the
interesting part: a fire sprang up in that bookstore during the night, and by
morning, the water used to put it out was still dripping down from the
That might have been a
good reason to call the meeting off, don’t you think? But you have to remember
these were tough people with great determination. So they met anyway, sitting
on boxes and crates in the dampness and ashes. I’ve always thought it rather symbolic
that they sat there with the ashes of books—the most basic tools of learning—at
their feet—while they laid plans for a place of learning. And the Phoenix that
rose from those ashes was LDS Business College.
1. & 2. Their plan
was basic. They needed a talented educator to help develop the Academy. Dr. Karl G. Maeser—who had already developed
other academies and was starting up a new one in Provo, Utah, which became BYU—agreed
to come to Salt Lake City to help establish this College. He brought with him
his pick of the faculty— Willard
Done—and served alongside him as he trained Brother Done to become the
College’s president, from 1886-1888.
3. Dr. James E. Talmage, a great scholar, served
as the College’s president from 1888-1892. His contribution (as quoted in one
of the yearbooks) was giving “its students a sense for scholarship that finds
its roots in religion.” Which, when you think about it, is another way of
saying even then the motto was “learning by study and by faith.” If his name is
familiar to you, think of the books “Jesus the Christ,” and “The Articles of
Faith,” to name a few.
President Talmage was
called away to start another church academy, but then officials from the
University of Utah asked Church leaders if he could help establish that school
instead, so he became the president of U. of U., and Willard Done became LDS Business College’s president
again for 7 more years, from 1892 to 1899.
His contribution was emphasis on theological training and the
introduction of business courses into the curriculum.
4. Dr. Joshua H. Paul served as president from
1899 to 1905, and he inherited a difficult situation. The College was in
financial trouble, and most of the faculty had left. The College seemed doomed,
but church leaders and businessmen collected enough money to pay the College’s
debts. And Church President Lorenzo Snow promised funding as well.
A lot of changes
happened during President Paul’s six years: the College’s name was changed
again—(I’ll explain that a little later), the College moved again (I’ll also
explain that a little later), and the College became famous for many reasons,
including public speaking, dramatics, and athletics—especially basketball.
(I’ll also explain that a little later).
5. Colonel Willard Young—a son of Brigham
Young—served as president from 1905 to 1916. He was a military fellow, and
brought a great deal of discipline and order to the College, as well as “exact
scholarship.” In other words, he was tough. The yearbook says, “Under his
administration, athletics became subordinate to studies, rules were rigidly
enforced, and students learned to ‘toe the mark’ outside the institution as
well as within.” And the college---and students—thrived under his leadership.
6. From 1916 to 1926, Guy C. Wilson served as
president. During his ten years, he focused on teaching self-government to the
students. Students made the laws, enforced the laws, and judged the law
breakers (with faculty keeping an eye on the process). The school also changed. The four-year high school
course was reduced to two years, and a two-year college course was added. A business college also began to grow around
this time. The College was finally a college.
7. Feramorz Young Fox became the College’s
seventh president in 1926, and stayed for 22 years, until 1948. This means he
carried the College through the Depression, and through the war. “Carried” is a
good descriptive word. Those were difficult years of little money and great
need, but his strong faith in the College and its’ purpose in the Lord’s
kingdom helped him sustain it.
Lean years meant students
couldn’t afford an education and enrollments dropped. In 1931, the high school
and junior college programs were closed, and the business college alone
remained. Along with his administrative duties at the College, President Fox
and his son were selling apples and potatoes to keep their family farm from
foreclosing. But due to his determination, the College eventually recovered,
enrollments started climbing again, and by the time President Fox’s years of
service completed, the College was in great condition, with high enrollments.
8. From 1948 to 1961, Kenneth S. Bennion served
as the College’s 8th president. He was a former student —and later a
teacher for 20 years—of the College. His strong connection to the business
community kept the College connected too. He had very high standards for the
College and its students. And although he kept a strict business attitude, he
was well known for helping discouraged students stay in school.
9. R. Ferris Kirkham served the longest term as
president—25 years from 1961 to 1986. He was a CPA and a talented businessman,
and his years as president were marked by progress; he basically took the
college from the typewriter age to the computer age. He developed new programs,
expanded the campus, added student dorms and a library, increased enrollments, and
made the College self-supporting. He truly modernized the College.
10. The tenth president, Kenneth H. Beesley,
served from 1986 to 1991. His appointment coincided with the College’s 100-year
anniversary, and they did have parties that year. During his time here he
brought the College closer into the mainstream of Church education. Curriculum
was revised, the student-to-computer ratio was improved, and the campus, which
was the one just before this one, was renovated and restored.
11. A few employees here at the college can still
remember President Beesley. Most remember the next president, Stephen K.
Woodhouse, who served from 1992 until 2008. President Woodhouse was a
successful businessman who advanced the College’s technology. He had a college
history published, introduced service learning into the curriculum, and was in
charge of the College’s move to this campus in 2006. As you can imagine, that
was not an easy task.
I’m curious: Are there
any students here today who went to the Mansion Campus before this campus?
Watch this: How many others in this room came from the
Mansion Campus to this campus? That’s
how recent that piece of history is. A lot of us have memories of our Mansion
Campus. It was a beautiful campus with beautiful woodwork, tapestries, and
fireplaces where students sometimes roasted marshmallows. True story.
So now we have our 12th
president, J. Lawrence—Larry—Richards.
Most of you know him, some of you probably know him really well. He started
here as a faculty member (after growing tired of being the president of a lot
of banks), and after a while, he became the assistant to President Woodhouse. Then,
on January 1, 2009, he became the College’s 12th president.
In the past year and a
half, President Richards has placed emphasis on a number of developments: a new learning model; a revised mission
statement; a vision statement; strategic initiatives, and the creation of more
skills-based programs, to name a few.
He’s also placed
emphasis on knowing each of you. I’d challenge any of you to find another
college president who hangs out in the cafeteria every Wednesday so students can
have lunch with him. And he’s in the halls, addressing you by name and asking
how your mom is doing. You might not appreciate how uncommon that is…but you
Now, here’s an
interesting historical fact. Remember Dr. Karl G. Maeser, the man who
established this College? His name is spelled
K-A-R-L M-A-E-S-E-R. Google him some time and read the story of
his conversion to the Gospel. That man who taught him about the Gospel and
baptized him was Franklin D. Richards, President Richard’s
great-great-grandfather. So President Richards’
great-great grandfather taught and baptized the man who established the
college where President Richards now serves as the president. And President
Richards’ grandfather went to this College as well. Those are some pretty amazing connections,
don’t you think?
interesting historical connection: At the turn of the century, in the early
1900s, the president of the business college part of the whole college was
Bryant S. Hinckley. President Hinckley had moved here from back east where he’d
resided with his family. Not too long after moving here, President Hinckley’s
wife became ill and eventually died, leaving him with their four small
a young woman named Ada Bitner was a faculty member at the College. She was an
unusual female for the time. She’d gone back east to study Gregg Shorthand, and
then returned here to teach it.
two of them—Bryant S. Hinckley and Ada Bitner—eventually fell in love, and were
married. The first child of this new union was Gordon Bitner Hinckley. So
President’ Hinckley’s parents met at LDS Business College. Which is why, when
it was time to dedicate this new campus, President Hinckley said he’d like to
do that himself, because of his particular affinity to this college.
The College’s name has
changed a few times throughout its 124 years. It started out as the Salt Lake
Academy, then became LDS College, then LDS University, then went back to LDS
College, and since 1931, has been known as LDS Business College.
The College’s campus address
has also changed—EIGHT times, usually
because the student population was growing, and the College needed more space.
Yet all of the College’s campuses have never been more than a few blocks from
in Social Hall on 39 South State 1886
Social Hall quickly, so some students met in Brigham Young Schoolhouse)
Building on 200 West 200 South 1891
17th Ward Chapel on 150 West 200 North 1895
Building on South Temple and Main 1897
House on 63 East South Temple 1900
few years the College moved. Leaders finally decided a campus was needed where
the College could stay and grow, so then they built...)
growing campus of large buildings constructed at
North Main 1902
campus remained for the longest span: 60 years. But eventually the Church needed
this site for construction of the Church Office Building…)
Mansion on 400 East South Temple 1962
(The College was there
for 44 years. And then in 2006, we
hugged that campus
good-bye and moved to…)
Triad Campus, here at 300 West North Temple 2006
The College also used
other buildings at different times for different programs. At one time it used
a large mansion on the hill for its music program, the old tithing barn for a
biology lab, and the Deseret Gym in downtown Salt Lake City for gym classes.
Speaking of gym
classes, the College also had a school song, called “The Gold and Blue,”
written by a student, James W. Welch, in 1901. The song was the kind that
students could sing during sports games. You probably didn’t know that the
College has, at different times in its past, had some pretty amazing (and
successful) sports teams.
The men’s teams
included football , basketball, baseball, tennis, swimming, golf, and track. Do you notice the “S” on the front of their
jerseys? The College’s teams were called the “Saints,” (have to wonder what the
mascot was). Over the years, the Saints crushed their opponents as they won an
impressive collection of state and even national titles and awards.
Meanwhile, the women,
not to be outdone, also had their own teams, among them tennis, hockey, baseball, and a Glee Club
College Life has
evolved throughout the years. The College sponsored many kinds of clubs, some
of them rather interesting, such as the “Seagull Club,” dedicated to doing good
deeds, the “Block ‘S’ Club,” which promoted “good morals, clean living,
sportsmanship, good fellowship, and high scholarship,” and the “Art Club,” created to “develop aesthetic
The College also had bands
and orchestras, choruses, theatrical productions, and a lot of dances.
Of course, the College
also taught classes. Lots of them. For
instance, what started out as Bookkeeping courses in the 1880’s are today’s
At one time, stenography
or shorthand was taught.
And so were classes in
what was called Office Training, which has evolved into Business Administrative
And typing classes—this
College has taught typing since typewriters were invented. In fact, during wartime in the 1940’s, LDS
Business College even taught typing to soldier clerks.
Students have also
learned English since the College began, and at times throughout the College’s history, other languages taught here included
Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, German, and French.
Of course, all kinds of
math classes have always been taught here.
The fact is, the College
has continued to develop courses as market and students’ needs change.
There. I’ve condensed LDS
Business College’s history into about 20 minutes. If you’ve written any of this
down, you’ll remember that the College is 124 years old, has had 12 presidents,
5 name changes, 8 addresses, some awesome sports teams, some interesting clubs,
and a wide variety of classes. Hopefully you also noticed the Lord’s hand has guided
this College all along.
But there’s more to the
story. Because now it’s time to talk about the “Why” of this College:
Why was it founded in the first place?
Why has it been preserved for 124 years?
Why is it here today?
And most importantly….why are YOU here
are some ideas on that from people you’ll recognize and respect:
See if you can figure out a common idea or two in
what they’ve said:
Remember Dr. Karl G. Maeser? He said,
“Here, at the
headquarters of the Church, (he meant Salt Lake City when he said that) Israel
will naturally look for an institution patronized by multitudes of students,
conducted by faithful teachers, supported by the liberality of the people,
approved in its labors by the authorities and above all, sustained by the
blessings of Almighty God.”
Dr. James E. Talmage said:
teaching and religious training are essential to a well-balanced curriculum.
For this symmetrical development of body, mind, and spirit—I commend our
Latter-day Saint schools.”
recent years, in graduation speeches and at devotionals, other leaders have
also taught us:
Bishop Keith B. McMullin: (Devo 2009)
“…The curriculum of the LDS Business College has not
focused on training and ‘book learning’ alone. From the beginning, the aim has
been to school the entire person, the spirit as well as the mind.”
Elder L. Whitney Clayton: (Devo 2007)
“I’m mindful that the purpose of LDS Business
College is to teach business skills in a spiritual setting. Thus, it seeks to
provide opportunity for balance in one’s life.”
Elder Kenneth Johnson: (Devo 2009)
“You have to learn fundamental skills in order to
progress with the greater opportunities of life. Don’t look at simple things
and say, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Recognize that in those simple things, you gain
a capacity that will be so essential as you progress through life and in your
President Gordon B. Hinckley: (at the dedication of
this new Triad Campus in September, 2006):
“Nothing could be better than what we have here….
Enjoy it, be grateful for the opportunity you have of attending school here.
Pray to the Lord for His blessings and guidance as you pursue your academic
President Deiter F. Uchtdorf: (Presidency of the Seventy….Commencement
“You, my dear friends...of this wonderful LDS
Business College, are privileged to study and learn in an environment where
your testimony of Jesus Christ is growing as part of your educational process.”
President Henry B. Eyring: (An Apostle …. Commencement 1996)
“The Lord talks about putting a light on a hill…. He
will make you a light, a beacon, and the world will then have the value of
knowing what education can be like when it is done the Lord’s way.”
President Thomas S. Monson: (A Counselor in the First Presidency…. Spoke
at the inauguration Pres. Woodhouse ’92)
“This institution is one of the few bastions where
truth can be taught, aided by testimony.”
Our leaders know why
this College is here. And they know why you are here. But do you know why
you are here?
yourselves this: We have this college
here, dedicated by a Prophet of God, staffed by faculty and staff and
administrators who are all temple worthy. And through the doors come worthy
students who’ve pledged to live in a way that will preserve this environment.
All of us have come here—maybe been brought here—for what?
In my work here, I
interview students and write your stories. In these stories, I’ve noticed an
interesting pattern. Many—maybe most—of you come here a little unsure. Some of
you are unsure of your abilities, some of you are unsure of the College, some
of you are unsure of your future. But you come here anyway—from all 50 states
and more than 60 countries worldwide—you come here… because you felt you were
guided here. Why?
probably think you chose to come here to learn a skill and get on with your
life. You did. But that’s only part of it. The rest of the reason is this:
You are being prepared
for the rest of your life’s work, and that doesn’t just mean your career.
That’s an important part, and you will need your skills and your careers to
help you raise your families and be useful in your communities.
But the spiritual side
of you, the disciple part of you, is also being taught here, nurtured here, and
cultivated here, so that when you move on, you move on as a complete person,
ready to help build the kingdom of our Heavenly Father on this earth in these
Amos 8:11-13 describes these latter days:
Behold, the days come,
saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of
bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:
And they shall wander
from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro
to see the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.
In that day shall the
fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.
You young women and
young men will not be among those fainting for thirst of the word of the
Lord. Here at this college you are
learning by study and by faith how to lead and serve others, prepare for temple
blessings, and gain wisdom and knowledge that will enable you to teach and lift.
influence the world with what you learn—and become—here.
take your spark into a dark world and lighten it with love, subdue it with
service, and improve it with knowledge, knowing that as long as one light
exists, the dark can never be absolute.
Remember when I told
you that LDS Business College was already ten years old when Utah became a
state? Well, think about those young people who had graduated from the College
What kind of influence do you think they
had on that brand new state in 1886?
What kind of contributions do you think
they made with the knowledge and spiritual strength they developed during their
years at the College?
What kind of service did they know how
Most importantly, what kind of
leadership did they give?
Those LDS Business College graduates made the same
kind of contributions 124 years ago that you will make during your lifetime in
this world today.
My young friends… None of this has happened by
chance—it’s all part of a grand design. You are here to gain an education in so much
more than just a career. You are here to
gain the word of the Lord, to become a beacon of light… and a disciple of
More than one kind of fire was lit in that Bookstore
so many years ago. Kindled that day was a flame that has glowed continually,
and never been extinguished.
For 124 years LDS Business College has been
Be grateful for your legacy—and build on it.
May God bless you as you strive to make the most of
your experience here, and continue the amazing legacy you’ve inherited is my
prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.