Elder Paul V. Johnson: "LDS Business College Institutional Adjustments"
Brothers and sisters, welcome to this exciting day.
Throughout its one hundred and thirty-four year history, LDS Business College has provided an environment where students can learn both meaningful skills and the ways of the Lord. To better serve the students who attend the school now, and in the future, the Board of Trustees of LDS Business College have approved the following adjustments that we are pleased to announce today.
On July 26, 1847, two days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young and several other men hiked to the top of a mountain he had seen in a vision prior to beginning the trek west. That spot, Ensign Peak, rises just north of where we’re gathered today in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.
In that spirit, we first announce that LDS Business College is to be renamed and will become Ensign College. This change will be effective September 1, 2020, to coincide with the beginning of the next academic year. Today, LDS Business College offers its students much more than programs in business and this name change will be a catalyst for re-introducing the College and all that it offers.
Secondly, beginning with the Fall 2021 semester, Ensign College will offer a limited number of Bachelor of Applied Science degrees. This type of degree is unique in its focus and concentration on preparing students with the in-demand skills employers are requesting. It’s anticipated that degrees will be offered in Business Management, Communications and Information Technology. It’s very common for two-year colleges to award a limited number of bachelor’s degrees and in doing so Ensign College will maintain its accreditation status as a two-year institution. The majority of the certificates and programs currently offered by the college will be stackable into one of the three Bachelor of Applied Science degrees. This will allow many of the students attending Ensign College to complete both an associate degree and a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree if they so choose.
Finally, Ensign College will serve a broader audience throughout the Church by offering much of its unique job-ready curriculum online. This will be primarily facilitated through an agreement with BYU–Pathway Worldwide which will allow Ensign College to develop, deliver and award certificates and degrees that will benefit not only students who attend the school on its Salt Lake City campus, but members of the Church around the world.
The school’s mission and its charge to produce graduates who are spiritually well-grounded and professionally prepared will not change. In fact, we are confident its ability to do so will be enhanced by these adjustments. Specific details and timelines for the changes are presently being worked out and will be announced at appropriate times in the future.
I pray that the Lord’s blessing will rest upon the faculty, staff, administration and especially the students as we go through this exciting transition over the next little while. I say so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
President Bruce C. Kusch: "Standing on the Shoulders of Greatness"
Elder Johnson, thank you very much.
Brothers and sisters, you should know, first and foremost, how much we love and appreciate Elder Johnson and the leadership that he provides to all of the Church Educational system.
This is an historic day in the life of this precious institution. I have often spoken of “days never to be forgotten,” but I believe that today is a day that never will be forgotten, and may be one of the most important events in the entire history of the College.
The Lord has promised that “…he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious…”[i] The Book of Mormon reminds us that we should “…live in thanksgiving daily for the many…blessings…” [ii] that the Lord bestows upon us.
Now, as you have heard this announcement for these adjustments, I would imagine that our hearts and minds are filled with thoughts, emotions, I hope a great deal of excitement, but above all, I hope that each of us is filled with a deep sense of gratitude and thanksgiving. With the approval and the support of the First Presidency, who are the officers of the Board of Trustees, and the full Board of Trustees, the Lord has bestowed a glorious blessing upon this institution and us. Speaking at the 1899 commencement exercises of then LDS College, Karl G. Maeser declared that its future would be more glorious than its past. That has been true, and I believe will continue to be true, so long as those of us who learn and serve at the College do so with a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving.
It is a sacred trust and responsibility to educate Heavenly Father’s children. In fact, it has been said that, “No greater responsibility can rest on any man [or any woman] than to be a teacher of God’s children.”[iii] The changes announced this morning are for the sole purpose of blessing and serving the students who attend here now, who will attend here in the future, and to bless and serve many who will never come here, but will feel of our love as we reach them and teach them through the means of technology.
Elder Marvin J. Ashton taught that, “When change is thought through carefully, it can produce the most rewarding and profound experiences in life. The changes we make must fit the Lord’s purposes and patterns.”[iv]
While we do not yet have every answer to every question, I can tell you that these changes have been thought through carefully and considered carefully – not only here at the College, but under the direction of prophets, seers, and revelators, to be certain that we are in harmony with the mind and will of the Lord.
We stand this morning on the shoulders of greatness, of those who have preceded us, from whom we inherit a legacy of humility, of frugality, of dedication, a pioneer spirit, a love for God’s children, a deep faith in the Savior and His Atonement and a love for Him that is firm, steadfast and immovable. I honor them today – many who are present with us this morning in the Assembly Hall and many more who have gone before.
Now, if you know a little something about the history of LDS Business College, you know that in the summer of 1886, one of the first formal gatherings to consider the creation of this institution took place in the burned out remains of a bookstore owned by James Dwyer. Those present sat on boxes and other improvised seats as water dripped on their heads from what remained of the roof. It is this spirit of grit and determination and perseverance that guided the institution in the past, and that will continue to guide us in the future.
You might also be interested to know that since 1886 the institution has been in 16 different locations, has had 13 presidents, and five different names. We have been known as the Salt Lake Stake Academy, LDS College, LDS University, LDS College for a second time, and finally LDS Business College. We have been LDS Business College since 1931 as that was the only department that survived after the Church could no longer provide financial support for the institution due to the conditions of the Great Depression.
And so, later this year, on September 1st, we will become Ensign College. An ensign is defined as a banner, a standard, or a symbol.[v] The scriptures use the word ensign to describe the new and everlasting covenant, as a symbol of peace, as a guide for the gathering of Israel, and as a light to be a standard to the nations.[vi] As we embrace a new name, I invite each of us to think more carefully about that light and being a standard of righteousness. The Savior reminded the Nephites that He was the light they were to hold up to the world.[vii] Students come from all over the world to this College to study and to learn, and our graduates can be found throughout the world. Becoming capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ is how we hold Him, His example, and His everlasting gospel up as a light, as a standard, and as an ensign everywhere we go. Our lives – faculty, staff and students – the lives that we live, and the example we set will be the measure of the success of this institution now and for generations to come.
So, what does all of this mean? Some things have and will obviously change because of today’s announcements. Some things have not changed and should never change.
One thing it means is that for students who started here last fall, or started here this semester, or even in a previous semester, if you choose, you can remain here and complete a bachelor’s degree, depending upon your discipline. We will have more to say about that later today in a question and answer session for all students and employees at that we will hold in the Multipurpose Room at 4 p.m. We realize that not everybody may be able to be there then, but for those who can, we invite you to come. In a week or so, we will have another one to continue to address questions.
Here is what will not change: As Elder Johnson read, our mission and our charge to produce graduates who are spiritually well-grounded and professionally prepared will not change.
Today, more than ever, families and the Church are in need of leaders who know how to find out what God wants done, and that know how to do it, and are determined to accomplish it.[viii]
So, our commitment to everyone who enrolls at this institution, whether they come here or whether they are enrolled in an Ensign College course in the future, is that you will receive an excellent education combined with power in faith; one that anchors you in and on the Savior and His Atonement, and one that is relevant and current; that endows you with the skills, capacities, capabilities, characteristics and attitudes that are vital in today’s world, equipping you for an environment that is ever-changing at an ever-increasing and exhilarating pace.
We are looking forward to sharing the details of the applied bachelor degree programs as they become available. Let me just say that we believe that the design of the degrees, with a certificate-first approach, powerful general education courses that you really WILL want to take, combined with our immersive learning framework will prepare our graduates to be leaders and value-added employees wherever they go.
We are and will remain an “open invitation” institution – extending an invitation to and welcoming anyone seeking the unique curriculum and learning experiences that we offer. For anyone that is worthy, and willing and qualified, we warmly welcome you to an institution that is a beacon of hope and opportunity; that says to all that we serve that we believe in you! That we believe in your unlimited potential as a child of God, and we offer our collective commitment to help you, personally and individually, discover the greatness within you; confident that this discovery will enable you to grow and become and achieve more than you ever thought possible.
I look forward to expanding and deepening our relationship with BYU-Pathway Worldwide. That President Clark Gilbert, president of BYU-Pathway Worldwide is with us this morning, and other employees of BYU-Pathway Worldwide who are here, is a demonstration of that relationship and our commitment to develop a partnership that will be powerful. We will learn from them and with them, as we work together to bless the lives of many seeking education that will lift them and their families to increased spiritual and temporal self-reliance.
Currently, and many of you may not know this, but currently, there are hundreds of students around the world already taking online courses that were created here at LDS Business College. We will have the opportunity of extending the blessings of learning to thousands in the not-too-distant future. Technology has made possible the remarkable growth of online education – and our shared opportunity is to create learning experiences that are not only convenient and uplifting, but compelling and powerful.
As I pondered our gathering this morning, the words of the Josephine Pollard hymn came to mind, and I’ve taken a little poetic license with the first verse:
We have work enough to do, ere the sun goes down
For ourselves and students too, ere the sun goes down
Every idle whisper stilling, with a purpose firm and willing
All our daily tasks fulfilling ere the sun goes down.[ix]
I assure you, brothers and sisters, there’s been a lot of work up to this point to prepare for this day. Now the work will really begin as we have the opportunity to implement these changes and adjustments that are monumental. I am grateful beyond what I can express for the blessing of working and serving at LDS Business College. What a privilege it is for Alynda and me to be here at this time and this place. I am grateful for the Board of Trustees – which counts among its membership the First Presidency and four members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles – for their support of this storied institution. You need to know that they love this place and the students who come here. And I know the Lord loves this school too – because it is His. May we now unite, brothers and sisters, as never before; with thankful hearts knit together to serve His children, is my prayer of gratitude this day.
In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
[i] See Doctrine and Covenants Section 78:19
[ii] See Alma 34:38
[iii] David O. McKay, in Conference Report, Oct. 1916, 57.
[iv] Marvin J. Ashton, “Progress through Change,” General Conference, October 1979
[vi] See Doctrine and Covenants 115:5
[vii] See 3 Nephi 18:16, 24
[viii] Henry B. Eyring, LDS Business College Inauguration, 13 October 2009
[ix] Hymns, number 224
President Bruce C. Kusch began his Church Educational System employment as a member of the business management faculty at Brigham Young University–Idaho in August 2002.
In July 2008, he was named associate academic vice president for curriculum at BYU–Idaho, serving in that capacity until June 2012 when he was called to serve as president of the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission.
President Kusch returned to BYU-Idaho in July 2015 as associate dean of online programs.
Before joining the BYU-Idaho faculty, President Kusch worked as a sales and marketing executive and management consultant for various high-technology firms in the San Francisco Bay Area.
President Kusch holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix, an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and a Ph.D. in instructional design from Idaho State University.
In May 2012, he was awarded the Kole-McGuffey Prize from the College of Education at Idaho State University, recognizing him as the outstanding doctoral candidate for his research in creating significant online learning environments.
President Kusch has served the LDS Church in many capacities, including full-time missionary (Guatemala-El Salvador Mission), elders quorum president, bishop, stake president and mission president. He currently serves as a member of the North Salt Lake Utah Parkway Stake high council.
President Bruce C. Kusch became the 13th president of LDS Business College on April 17, 2017, where he had been serving as its chief academic officer since March 2016.
President Kusch and his wife, Alynda, were married in the Los Angeles California Temple in 1974. They are the parents of four children and have 15 grandchildren. His interests include running, biking, fly fishing, photography and outdoor cooking.