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The People of BYU-Idaho

Inauguration of President Henry J. Eyring

I am grateful to be here on another great day at BYU-Idaho. The inauguration of a new president is a time of reflection and anticipation. In that spirit, I invite you to ponder these words of the Lord given to the Prophet Joseph in 1832:

"I, the Lord, have put forth my hand to exert the powers of heaven; ye cannot see it now, yet a little while, and ye shall see it, and know that I am, and that I will come and reign with my people."1

My dear brothers and sisters, we can see it; we can see the hand of the Lord in His kingdom and in this school. BYU-Idaho has been created and set apart by the hand of the Lord through His living prophets. It has been set apart for His work and His purposes. It has been set apart from the world to be a different kind of university.

At the heart of BYU-Idaho is the heritage of Ricks College—an abiding commitment to students of diverse interests and abilities; to deep learning of mind, heart, body, and spirit; to teaching one-by-one by the power of the Holy Ghost; to lives of faith in Jesus Christ, love, sacrifice, humility, obedience, frugality, and hard work. 

Building on that heritage, the Lord has raised up BYU-Idaho to educate growing numbers of young people who will do important work in their families, in their communities, and in His kingdom. He has sent the people of BYU-Idaho on His errand to improve learning while serving more students at a lower cost for each one. That has required the people here to do hard things, things that in a traditional university might seem almost impossible. Consider three examples:

  • Teach and develop a very large and growing number of students, yet create a campus that feels friendly, intimate, and small
  • Hold strictly to a tight cap on credit hours at graduation, yet graduate well-educated, well-prepared students.
  • Take a frugal, even spartan approach to costs and resources, yet be a university that is effective and highly innovative.

I could go on. Making these things happen (and they have happened at BYU-Idaho) is only possible through the love, mercy, and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has brought people to this campus blessed with remarkable gifts and talents. They have come with great faith and consecration. They have given heart and soul to the Lord and to this school, and the Lord has blessed them with revelation. He has magnified their capacity, and they have accomplished seemingly impossible things.

Having done all of that, they remain humble, faithful, and committed to doing even more. And there is much more to be done. 

The people of BYU-Idaho remind me of Ammon, that great missionary to the Lamanites, who said:

"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore, I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things."2

I, too, marvel at what the Lord has done through the remarkable people of BYU-Idaho. Your new president, Henry J. Eyring, and his wife, Kelly, are two of those people. The Lord prepared them, over a long period of time. He brought them here, and He has tutored them and blessed them. I have been an eyewitness to that process. May I offer a personal word about my friend, Henry. The great spirit of this place—its values, its character, its very nature—is in Henry's heart and soul. There is a beautiful alignment between who Henry is and the very essence of this school. His roots here are deep.

I close with a passage of scripture that summarizes my message today. Speaking of the people in the school in Zion, the Lord said:

"Verily, I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me.
For I, the Lord, will cause them to bring forth as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit." 3

These words were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. I bear witness of Him. He is the living Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, and He speaks the truth. His words describe Henry and Kelly Eyring, they describe the people of BYU-Idaho, and they describe this remarkable university. May it ever be so. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Doctrine and Covenants 84:119.
[2] Alma 26:12.
[3] Doctrine and Covenants 97:8-9.